May 13, 2014

Rampage still in the hunt for title

Members of the Georgia Rampage finally left a game feeling good.

For once this season, they got the big plays — and they also seem to have found a reliable option at quarterback.

In his first start, Bart Gloyd threw for three touchdowns, ran for two and helped the Rampage win 66-44 against the Savannah Steam on Monday at the trade center. It was the final home game of the year for the Rampage, who maintain hope of finishing in the top two of the five-team X-League standings and playing for the league’s inaugural championship at next month’s X-Bowl in St. Louis.

The Rampage improved to 2-4. This was their first non-forfeit victory of the season.

“It’s nice to win just for the people who are here,” Rampage coach Mark Bramblett said in reference to the team’s fans. “We have those core supporters and it’s nice to give them a win. They know we’ve struggled.”

After four games and four losses, the Rampage had a bevy of question marks at quarterback. The team used two different starting quarterbacks, Telford Chatman and Demarcus Simons, in those four games but used Gloyd in the second half of a loss to the St. Louis Attack last month. He performed well enough to earn the start against the Steam (0-5), and his play didn’t drop off.

His first touchdown pass, a 10-yard connection with wide receiver Erik Jones, trimmed the Steam’s early lead to 11-9 in the opening quarter. Gloyd then connected with Jared Harris on a 15-yard score with four seconds remaining in the first half, and the Rampage trailed 24-17 at halftime.

Gloyd found Jones for a 2-yard touchdown pass with 4:56 left in the third quarter, and the two-point conversion put the Rampage up 31-30, their first lead of the game. After a kick-return fumble from the Steam’s Michael Figgers, a former Rampage player, Gloyd scored on a 1-yard keeper for a 37-30 lead with 2:56 left in the third quarter.

“My experience helps me coach up the receivers,” said Gloyd, who has played for numerous indoor football franchises. “I think it helps having a coach on the field to help the receivers a bit.”

After the Steam went back on top with a touchdown and two-point conversion, Morgan Alexander returned the ensuing kickoff end zone to end zone for a 43-38 Rampage lead to finish the third quarter.

The Steam followed with another touchdown — another former Rampage player, quarterback Javares Taylor, connected with Aaron Palmer for the score — to lead 44-43 early in the fourth. Gloyd followed with a 3-yard touchdown run with 4:02 remaining to put the Rampage ahead 51-44. Rampage defensive lineman D.J. Foster recovered a fumble by Taylor — all defensive stops in the X-League earn one point — and Byron Stewart scored his second touchdown of the game from 6 yards away with 55 seconds left.

All scores in the final minute of the game earn double points, called the “X-Bonus,” and Stewart’s score gave the Rampage 12 points and all but sealed the win. The Rampage earned two more points for one last defensive stop.

“We were finally able to get clicking,” Bramblett said. “Our quarterback showed up. The kick we ran back was big for us and the kick-return fumble recovery was big.”

The Steam, originally the Pennsylvania Steam, changed owners midseason and moved to Savannah. The team isn’t playing home games and the Rampage earned a forfeit win from a game scheduled for April 25 in Pennsylvania.

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