WEBSTER CITY - The heat - 94 degrees at kickoff - was bad enough. The Blaze, well, that was simply destructive.
The Des Moines Blaze - the top-ranked minor league football team in the country, according to various publications - entered Stampede Stadium on Saturday and took Webster City's own Midwest Rampage behind the woodshed for an old-fashioned spanking, 47-0, in a rematch of the inaugural Midwest Football Alliance championship game won by the Blaze last August.
With all-league quarterback DeMareo Darrah doing what he wanted, when he wanted, the Blaze (9-0) piled up a team-record 611 yards against the usually stout Rampage defense. Darrah completed 20 of 27 passes for 395 yards and five touchdowns - tying his own franchise record for TD tosses in a game. He would have had six, but Rampage defender Herb Bolden stepped in front of a pass in the end zone for a second-quarter interception.
DFJ photo by Tracy Runneberg
Rampage linebacker Ross Haren (bottom) drags down Blaze tight end Clarence Ward on Saturday.
Randy Blackford - another all-league talent - was on the receiving end of eight balls from Darrah for 213 yards which was, yes, another team record. Blackford capped off a 26-point fourth quarter with a 90-yard touchdown reception from Darrah to add a little fresh salt to the already gaping wound on the Rampage (4-3) psyche.
Blaze rookie running back Larry Taylor churned out a franchise-best 169 yards on the ground, scoring once from 15 yards out. He also caught a 2-yard touchdown pass from Darrah.
Rampage linebackers D.J. Erkenbrack and John Elkin led the defensive unit with 10.5 and seven tackles, respectively. The black and orange lost three defensive stalwarts in the second half to injury - Tyler Mosbach and Brian Miller suffered concussions, and Tierre Pettigrew limped off with a hamstring injury - and Elkin says the combination of injuries and chasing Darrah for four quarters eventually took a toll.
Blaze 47, Rampage 0
DMB - Brandon Williams 37 pass from DeMareo Darrah (Brent Tisl kick).
DMB - Jay Heathcoate 6 pass from Darrah (Tisl kick).
DMB - Heathcoate 15 pass from Darrah (kick failed).
DMB - Larry Taylor 2 pass from Darrah (Tisl kick).
DMB - Taylor 15 run (Tisl kick).
DMB - Legrand Beine-Aimee 50 INT return (kick failed).
DMB - Blackford 90 pass from Darrah (Tisl kick).
Rushing - DMB: Larry Taylor 17-169. MR: Monterio Poe 11-(-8), R.J. Higgins 3-3.
Passing - DMB: DeMareo Darrah 20-27-1 395. MR: Erik Ingelin 7-13-0 82, Ben Wolford 2-6-2 12.
Receiving - DMB: Randy Blackford 8-213. MR: Alonzo Clayton 5-61, Chris McNiel 3-13, Cory Stuhr 1-20.
Tackles (Leaders) - MR: D.J. Erkenbrack 10.5, John Elkin 7, Andy Sowle 6.5, Herb Bolden 6, Ross Haren 5.
"(Darrah) is built like a linebacker, he's as fast as a receiver, and he's a pretty darned good quarterback, too," Elkin said. "DeMareo is what drives that team ... he's that good.
"We played with them in the first half (it was 14-0 at the intermission), but they made good adjustments in the fourth quarter and we were a skeleton crew by then."
The Rampage offense was also hit hard by injuries. Veteran center Jay Smith suffered a torn ACL on the first play from scrimmage - an injury that will sideline him for the season - and quarterback Erik Ingelin was forced off the field in the third quarter, leaving the signal caller duties to offensive coordinator and part-time player Ben Wolford.
Ingelin completed 7-of-13 passes for 82 yards before his exit, and Wolford was 2-of-6 passing for 12 yards. Wolford was also picked off twice.
The Rampage running game went nowhere, finishing with minus-5 yards on 11 carries. The backfield was without starter Dan Schaa, who missed his second consecutive game because of other commitments.