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February 27, 2013

Taking it all in(doors)

Fans see dramatic end to Rampage's exhibition

If each game ends the same as Tuesday night’s preseason contest with the Georgia Panthers, then the Georgia Rampage’s 2013 season should be pretty entertaining.

The Rampage beat the Panthers 25-21 thanks to a goal-line stop in the final minute at the trade center. It was the Rampage’s first home game in Dalton and precedes its upcoming Ultimate Indoor Football League season, which begins Monday when the Rampage hosts the Lakeland (Fla.) Raiders.

Indoor football is commonly considered a high-scoring sport with defenses at a disadvantage, and Rampage coaches, officials and players even said so in previous interviews. Teams have eight players on the field at once — three linemen — and a maximum of two offensive players can be in forward motion when the play begins. The field, surrounded by a wall, is only 50 yards long and 28 yards wide.

However, it was defense that shined for the Rampage during Tuesday night’s trial run, and the offense that needed a bit of help. Rampage quarterback Joel Statham had two fumbled snaps in the first half — one, the first Rampage offensive play of the game, resulted in a turnover — and backup quarterback Javares Taylor threw an interception in the second half.

“For (Robert Stephens), it was his first game playing center,” Statham said. “I knew (snaps) would be different for him in the game situation.”

There were also a couple flags for false start with players in motion crossing the line of scrimmage before the snap. Wide receiver Jeff Phillips, who caught three first-half touchdowns, said he knew exactly what was wrong.

“Timing,” Phillips said. “A lot of timing with the receivers and quarterbacks.”

On defense, the Rampage’s Aldrickious Shumake intercepted the first pass and the Panthers didn’t get a first down until the 4:43 mark of the second quarter.

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