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Rampage wilt in second half, lose season finale to No. 1 Blaze

Sowle returns fumble 91 yards for TD to keep Rampage close in first half

July 31, 2012
By Troy Banning - Sports Editor ( , The Daily Freeman Journal

DES MOINES - It was the end of the season for most and the end of the line for others here Saturday as the Midwest Rampage closed up shop on the 2012 season against the No. 1 nationally ranked Des Moines Blaze.

With the playoffs out of the question and a depleted roster, the Rampage (6-5) fought tough for a half before bowing down to the loaded and still unbeaten Blaze, 48-13.

The Blaze (11-0) - the reigning Midwest Football Alliance champion and the odds on favorite to hoist the hardware yet again next month - turned a 7-6 lead with 2 minutes left in the first half into an insurmountable 27-6 advantage early in the third quarter en route to the runaway victory.

The Rampage (6-5) stayed close in the first half thanks it its opportunistic defense that included a strip, fumble recovery and 91-yard touchdown return by veteran defensive back Andy Sowle.

Wide receiver Andy Goeb hauled in a 2-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ben Wolford in the second half to account for the rest of the Rampage scoring.

Wolford completed 9 of 25 passes for 102 yards in the contest, but he was intercepted three times. Linebacker turned running back DJ Erkenbrack rumbled 11 times for 36 ground yards, and defensive tackle turned relief running back in the second half Cory Simpson lumbered four times for 24 yards.

Goeb caught four balls for 47 yards, while Chris McNiel made two catches that covered 30 yards.

The Blaze were again led by the running and passing exploits of do-everything quarterback DeMareo Darrah. He made good on 13 of 24 passes for 258 yards and three scores, and he also rushed for 107 yards and a touchdown on 11 totes.

Running back Larry Taylor churned out a game-high 146 yards on 17 carries, and he reached the end zone once. Wide receiver Randy Blackford caught three balls for 67 yards and a touchdown.

Erkenbrack made a team-high 10 1/2 tackles, and he picked off a Darrah pass and returned it 14 yards, for the Rampage defense. Fellow linebacker John Elkin - making his final appearance in a Rampage uniform - had eight stops, including six solo tackles. Sowle finished with five solo tackles, including two sacks of Darrah.

Defensive tackle Brian Miller, who has also announced his plan to retire from competitive football, had one tackle.



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