The Arena Football League postseason will go on without the Chicago Rush for the first time in the franchise's 11-year history. The Rush was eliminated from the playoff race in a 61-54 loss to the San Antonio Talons at the Allstate Arena on Sunday.
With playoffs and a division title on the line, a pre-game brawl on the field set the stage for an emotional battle between the division rivals.
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"We take pride in our home," said wide receiver Jared Perry. "We felt kind of disrespected when they walked through while we were stretching. It got a little hostile and it fired us up."
The fights featured several players from both teams and were eventually broken up by police. Rush head coach Bob McMillen said he doesn't anticipate any repercussions from the league as a result of the altercations.
"Two teams heated, very excited to play football," McMillen said. "I don't believe anything should happen or will happen."
With the win, the Talons (13-3) locked up the National Conference Central Division title and put the Rush (9-7) out of reach of the fourth and final wild-card playoff spot it held for much of the season.
"It's a tough loss," McMillen said. "I thought our team fought all game. A couple bad series and that's the ballgame. It's disappointing because I know how much these guys wanted it in that locker room."
The Rush took a 7-0 lead when Reggie Gray brought back the opening kickoff for a touchdown. The teams matched each other score-for-score for much of the game, but Rush quarterback Russ Michna was sacked three times on the Rush's final two possessions -- both of which ended with a turnover on downs -- to allow the Talons to take control of the game.
Michna finished with 356 yards, 6 TD passes and 2 interceptions. Wide receiver Jared Perry continued his stellar rookie campaign with 10 catches for 157 yards and 3 scores.
For the Talons, quarterback Aaron Garcia completed 26 of 40 passes for 320 yards, 7 touchdowns and 1 INT.
The Rush will close out the season with two games on the road against the Milwaukee Mustangs and Cleveland Gladiators.
"We've got 24 good character guys in our locker room and I want to see them come out and play like we're going to the playoffs for these last two games," McMillen said. "They're going to come out and work hard and try to finish the season on an up note."