The Chicago Rush took control of the Central Division in the Arena Football League by unleashing a season-best scoring barrage on the Dallas Vigilantes, beating them 69-57 on Sunday afternoon in front of 9,535 fans.
It was a see-saw battle between the Rush (7-3) and the Vigilantes (6-4) throughout the first half at Allstate Arena, with Chicago grabbing a 28-24 halftime lead after Marcus Waugh scored from one yard out with seven seconds left in the second quarter. Russ Michna and Reggie Gray then connected on a 40-yard touchdown strike on the first play of the third quarter to jump ahead 35-24.
The kill shot came in the fourth quarter when Charles Dillon caught a short pass from Michna and then broke free for a 48-yard touchdown, and on the ensuing Dallas drive, Kelvin Morris intercepted Dan Raudabaugh in the end zone and returned it 55 yards the other way for a Chicago Rush touchdown that put the home team up 62-44 with 8:03 left in the game.
The Vigilantes entered the game with the league’s leading rusher in Derrick Ross, as well as the second-best ground attack in the AFL. One key to a Chicago Rush victory was to contain Ross. Mission accomplished. The Rush defense held Ross to 22 rushing yards and three one-yard touchdown runs. Meanwhile Raudabaugh lost 12 yards on the ground when he was corralled by Joe Clermond, giving the Vigilantes a total of 10 rushing yards for the game.
Another key to a Chicago Rush victory was eliminating turnovers and mental mistakes. Again, mission accomplished. The Rush only coughed up one fumble, and Michna played a masterful game, completing 20 of 24 passes for 264 yards and seven touchdowns without an interception. Chicago was also only flagged for four penalties throughout the game.
On the other side of the ball, Raudabaugh completed 29 of 39 passes for 322 yards and five touchdowns. In addition to throwing the interception to Morris, he also threw one that was picked off by Vic Hall and returned 25 yards.
Hall finished the game with 12 tackles, an assist, and a broken-up pass in addition to his interception. Greg James added eight tackles. Quartez Vickerson and Reggie Scott each blocked extra point attempts by Vigilantes kicker Remy Hamilton.
Dillon led the Rush receivers with six receptions for 113 yards and two touchdowns, while Gray added six receptions of his own for 89 yards and three touchdowns. For the Vigilantes, Anthony Jones had a huge game with 16 receptions, 179 yards, and two touchdowns, while Matt Fields contributed seven receptions for 105 yards and two scores.
With the division lead, the Chicago Rush hosts the Tulsa Talons (4-6) in an important division game on Sunday afternoon. The Talons beat the Rush 64-45 on May 7 in Tulsa, so Chicago will be looking for revenge on its home turf. Tulsa is coming off a close loss to the Kansas City Command on Saturday.
The Vigilantes return to Dallas to host the Pittsburgh Power (5-4) on Saturday night. The Power was on a bye in Week 11 but is boasting a two-game win streak.