Rosemont, Ill. — Same teams, different story.
The Iowa Barnstormers let Chicago quarterback Russ Michna and the Rush have a field day last month in an Arena Football League season-opening loss.
In Saturday night’s rematch, the Barnstormers harassed Michna and got two interceptions from Jason Simpson, and Todd Blythe caught three touchdown passes from Ryan Vena in a 44-30 victory.
Michna had six touchdown passes and no interceptions in Chicago’s season-opening 61-43 win April 2 in Des Moines. On Saturday, Michna was off target, throwing only two touchdown passes in the Rush’s second straight loss.
“That was by far the best defense we put on the field all year,” Barnstormers coach John Gregory said.
After the Barnstormers (3-3) took a 24-16 lead into the half, the defense took over. Simpson picked off Michna, and Blythe scored his third touchdown on the next possession to make it 31-16.
The Rush (4-2) failed to gain a yard on their next possession. Defensive back Tanner Varner delivered a crunching hit on former NFL receiver Samie Parker to jar the ball loose for an incompletion on fourth down. Vena then found Rodney Filer in the flat for a 12-yard touchdown and a 38-16 cushion.
“Our pass rush was relentless,” Gregory said. “I think our secondary coverage was what we expected all year, so I was really pleased.”
The Rush scored twice to pull within 38-30 partly due to Barnstormers’ miscues. Larry Kendrick fumbled away a kickoff return and Vena was picked off by Josh Ferguson.
Vena responded by completing a four-minute drive with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Jesse Schmidt before the Barnstormers’ defense came up big again, stripping the ball from 296-pound tight end Robert Boss.
The defense also stopped Boss in the backfield on a fourth-and-goal in the first quarter. Cornerback Khalil Carter was the first man to reach him. Carter also picked off Michna in the opening period.
“We played a great team effort today,” Vena said. “Defensively, we did a helluva job when we pressured their quarterback.”
Courtesy of the Des Moines Register