For the first two games of the Georgia Rampage’s season, the defense had been hemorrhaging, giving up 74 and 58 points in a pair of losses.
Turns out all they needed was a Patches to stop the bleeding.
Defensive back Patches Burgess had a pair of interceptions and the Rampage dramatically cut down their points allowed per game average in a 25-18 win over the Missouri Monsters on Monday night at the trade center in Dalton.
The win was crucial for the Rampage (1-2) in the chase for the Ultimate Indoor Football League playoffs.
“It should have been three (interceptions), but at the end I was just knocking stuff down,” Burgess said.
The Monsters managed just one touchdown in the second half. After Missouri’s Dello Davis scored on a 25-yard pass from quarterback Tavares Woodley with 8:25 in the third quarter, the Rampage clamped down. Missouri had four possessions the remainder of the game and came closest to scoring on a missed field goal try in the fourth.
“If you consider what we have been giving up this year, the play of the defense tonight was just sensational,” Rampage coach Mark Bramblett said.
“We were able to get a lot of pressure on Woodley in the second half, and Patches came up with big plays all night long and was definitely the defensive player of the game.”
The Rampage offense continued to struggle close to the goal. Three times the team got inside the 10-yard line and failed to score.
“The defense definitely carried us tonight,” said quarterback Joel Statham, who threw a pair of touchdown passes and snuck in for another. “They kept us in it and we were able to finish it off. The offense is still a work in progress right now. We still have some kinks to work out.”
Statham found Dallas Walker on a 29-yard scoring pass on the game’s opening possession. The Monsters answered with a score on their first possession to cut the lead to 7-6, and it looked as if the crowd was in for a shootout between the two teams, each of which came into the game winless.
But then both defenses took over. Burgess had his first interception and the Rampage stopped Missouri on fourth down on the Monsters’ next possession.
Missouri intercepted Statham and the Rampage fumbled on their two possessions during the same stretch.
With 4:40 left in the second quarter, Woodley hit Gary Johnson on a 15-yard scoring pass, but the Rampage respon-ded, with Statham’s 1-yard touchdown run giving his team a 13-12 halftime lead.
After the Monsters took the lead back on Davis’ touchdown, the Rampage regained control on a 7-yard scoring pass from Statham to C.J. Dial to go up 19-18.
The game was sealed with a scoring drive that ended on a 6-yard run from Jeff Phillips with 1:00 remaining.
“It feels great to get that monkey off of our backs,” Statham said.