The Rhode Island Rampage traveled to Connecticut this past Saturday, where they lost to the Constitution for the third time in as many tries.
The last time these two teams faced off, the Rampage nearly pulled off the on-the-road upset, rallying to take the lead with three minutes to go, before Connecticut punched in three straight goals for the victory. This time, Rhode Island would need a rally just to make it close; but rally they did.
The Rampage offense was out-of-sync immediately, feeling the absences of captains Teddy Browar-Jarus and Brandon Malecek. The Rampage were broken four straight times to open then game, digging themselves into a deep hole. Coach Colin Maneval then made the unorthodox call to substitute his defensive line into the game to play offense. The move would prove to be productive, as the Rampage's Sam Richards, playing in his second game with the team, scored Rhode Island's first goal (assist from Matt Smith).
Things got even worse for the Rampage when the Constitution scored the next two points, breaking the RI offense yet again. Rampage trailed 6-1 with 3:14 remaining in the first quarter, as the game appeared to be headed toward total disaster. The teams then exchanged a couple of goals each, with Rampage trailing 7-3 at the end of the first.
In the second quarter, however, things started to click for Rhode Island. A marathon-point defensive effort to open the quarter was ultimately unsuccessful, but the Rampage O-line took over from there. The O-line found its groove and sailed through the quarter, trading points with the Constitution throughout he entire period (goals by Brian Zid and Casey Peters featuring prominently). Still, Rampage headed to the locker room at halftime, down 12-7, in need of some magic.
The Rampage came out in the second half firing on all cylinders. Though they were unable to stop the initial CT score (falling as far behnd as 13-7), the Rampage offense then slammed home the next goal (Peters-to-Zid), and the defense followed it up with a defensive break to start chipping away at the CT lead (goal by Matt Smith; 13-9). Rampage then pulled off a second consecutive defensive break, to claw back to 13-10, making a game out of what had looked just minutes before like a total blowout.
A few points later, the Rampage managed yet another defensive break (Johston-to-Smith), pulling the score to 14-12: shocked fans were witnessing a two-point game with three minutes to go in the third quarter. RI finished the quarter down just 16-13.
The fourth quarter began with the Connecticut crowd on edge, as Rhode Island scored out of the gate to bring the game back to 16-14. Rhode Island hung with CT for the next few points (thanks in part to a daring thumber from Rampage Captain Mike Miller that set up a Rhode Island goal at 17-15), but a few costly turnovers allowed CT to pull out to a seemingly-comfortable 21-16 lead.
The Rampage had one last burst left in the tank, as defender Terry Roth (featured on ESPN's Top 10 earlier this season) managed back-to-back goals to pull Rhode Island to 21-18 with three minutes remaining. However, those would be the last goals of Rhode Island's day, as CT would punch in the next three, to win 24-18. In a game that went from blowout to nail-biter, Rhode Island proved once again that they are always a team worth watching, even in defeat.
Ramapge (5-5) head into a bye week, having played more games than any other team in the league. When they next play, they will attempt to avert a sweep in the season series against CT, as they host the Constitution in the two teams' final regular-season matchup. Rampage has lost only to Connecticut and Philadelphia.
-Article by Chip Cobb.
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Photo Courtesy Hudson Sports Images