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Arena football briefs

©Associated Press

© St. Petersburg Times,
published August 20, 2001


Grand Rapids wins title; Nashville denied again

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Rampage quarterback Clint Dolezel threw seven touchdowns, and Grand Rapids set a league championship game scoring record while beating the Nashville Kats 64-42 Sunday in ArenaBowl XV for its first title.

Rampage offensive specialist Terrill Shaw, the game MVP, caught 12 passes for 172 yards, including an ArenaBowl record five touchdowns.

Dolezel, who threw for 308 yards, tied an ArenaBowl record with four touchdown passes in the first half.

Shaw, released by Buffalo this year, wasn't overly impressed:

"I was just doing what they pay me to do, which is run routes and score touchdowns. I told myself that I wasn't going to be stopped today."

The Rampage defense, which surrendered more than 55 points a game this season, stopped Nashville twice in the first half. The Rampage stopped the Kats on downs early in the second quarter, and defensive specialist JoJo Polk intercepted Andy Kelly's pass with 40 seconds left in the half.

"This game always comes down to stops," said Grand Rapids coach Michael Trigg, the league's coach of the year. "We have always felt that because of how good our offense is, our defense can be aggressive."

Grand Rapids, which finished the season with a league-best 14-3 record, claimed its first AFL title.

Nashville (12-5) lost to Orlando in last season's ArenaBowl.

Gruden returns on field

Former Tampa Bay Storm quarterback Jay Gruden, who has coached Orlando since 1998, announced he is retiring as a coach and returning as a player.

Gruden, 34, said he intends on playing quarterback next season for the Predators.

Gruden last played in 1996 for Tampa Bay, when he passed for a career high 3,626 yards and 70 touchdowns in leading the Storm to a fourth ArenaBowl.

As coach, Gruden led Orlando to the ArenaBowl his first three seasons, winning in 1998 and 2000.

-- Staff writer John C. Cotey contributed to this report.

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