Grand Rapids Second-Half Comeback Not Enough to Defeat UtahGRAND RAPIDS – The Utah Blaze (4-10) avoided a close one against the Grand Rapids Rampage (3-10) on Sunday afternoon. A stellar first half for Utah was nearly matched by Grand Rapids in the second, but the Blaze went on to capture their fourth victory of 2008. The 63-56 win was witnessed by 5,252 fans inside Van Andel Arena. “We played solid the first 30 minutes, but I am disappointed in the second half,” said Blaze head coach/general manager DANNY WHITE. “Every game now is a playoff game, and we have to treat it like that. Utah opened up scoring for the afternoon with an impressive 42-yard touchdown strike from QB JOE GERMAINE (6-2, 238, Ohio State) to WR HUEY WHITTAKER (605, 228, South Florida). Both teams traded a pair of scores before a Rampage fumble would be returned by Defensive Player of the Game, Blaze LB KELVIN MORRIS (6-3, 236, Clemson) for a touchdown. Morris finished the game with 3.5 total tackles and the fumble return for the touchdown. The first quarter ended with Blaze on top, 21-7. The Blaze capitalized on two second quarter Rampage turnovers keeping the team in the lead at the end of the first half, 42-14. The Rampage turnover on downs and a Blaze net recovery by Ironman of the Game, DB J'SHARLON JONES (5-8, 188, Colorado State) were capped off with two touchdown runs by Utah FB RODNEY FILER (6-2, 266, Iowa). Grand Rapids tallied the first score of the third quarter with a 26-yard touchdown pass from Rampage QB JAMES MACPHERSON (602, 197, Wake Forest) to WR KENNY HIGGINS (6-1, 187, Toledo). Utah answered back in no time when Jones returned the kickoff 56 yards for a quick Blaze score. Grand Rapids tallied two more touchdowns to Utah's one as the Blaze held on to a 56-35 lead entering the final quarter of play. The Rampage fought back in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Blaze 21-7, but it wasn't enough as Utah went on to win, 63-56. Offensive Player of the Game, Blaze WR J.J. McKELVEY (6-3, 227, Clemson) scored Utah's lone fourth quarter touchdown. He finished the game with five receptions for 146 yards and two touchdowns. The Blaze return home to Energy SolutionsArena next week to take on the Los Angeles Avengers on June 9. The nationally televised (ESPN2) Monday night game will kickoff at 8 p.m. (MT).
ABOUT THE UTAH BLAZE
The Utah Blaze were recipients of the Best Support Staff Award for the 2006 and 2007 seasons as recognized by the Arena Football League. The Blaze return home to Energy SolutionsArena next week to take on the Los Angeles Avengers on June 9. The nationally televised (ESPN2) Monday night game will kickoff at 8 p.m. (MT). Tickets are available by logging onto www.utahblaze.com or by calling (801) 257-3111. The Blaze are owned and operated by the Ken Garff Automotive Group – www.kengarff.com.