Defensive back Manny Rodriguez said it might not be as easy for the Rampage’s defense once the regular season begins.
“I’m not sure what to expect,” he said. “In the first game, (the Raiders) are supposed to be really good.”
The Rampage led 19-7 at halftime but trailed 21-19 in the fourth quarter. With 3:30 left, Rodriguez recovered a blocked field goal and returned it for the go-ahead touchdown.
The Panthers, an outdoor team from Marietta, used a personal foul and pass interference penalty to get first-and-goal from the 5. Three plays later, it was fourth-and-goal from the 1.
A quarterback sneak attempt from Antonio Henton resulted in a fumble, both teams celebrating and a conference for game officials. They ruled the Rampage had recovered, concluding a dramatic finish.
“It doesn’t get any better than that,” Shumake said of the game’s ending.
For the fans who stayed, it was an eventful finish to a game that won’t count against either team’s record but gave a preview of what the Rampage will be. A football team local fans can watch when they normally wouldn’t have the chance.
“It’s football,” said Paul Summey, of Dalton. “We don’t have any usually in the spring. If it was in Miami, then no, I wouldn’t go. But it’s in Dalton.”
Rampage co-owner Kacee Smith said the estimated attendance was between 500 to 600. Fans filled the bleachers and stood along the wall as players crashed into and over the barrier, bringing additional reasons to cheer big hits due to how close the action is.
“I think it’s really good that you can see the guys’ faces and are right there with them,” Chatsworth’s Andy Brogdon said. “I think it’s good that there really aren’t any boundaries. The wall is it.”
And Smith hopes the numbers rise for the Rampage’s six remaining scheduled home games.
“I want a solid 1,000,” he said. “From here on out.”