DALLAS -- In the waning moments of Dallas' 63-56 Arena League loss to the Chicago Rush at American Airlines Center on Saturday night, Vigilantes players could be seen fighting with coach Rich Ingold on the bench as frustration mounted from their 1-5 start.
Ingold ripped his defense after the loss for being unable to get a stop until literally the last minute, adding that there would be drastic changes in the unit this week.
"We turned the ball over one time, and we lose," Ingold said. "Offensively, we have to score every time. Our defense absolutely did nothing."
As the clock ticked down, defensive back Eddie Moten and wide receiver Derek Lee were jawing on the bench at the coaching staff before being pulled away by teammates.
"We didn't get enough stops for him," Moten said. "[The drama] has just been going on. We'll put it behind us, you know, and it's over with, but I don't know what to say about that."
Chicago (5-2) rode their ground attack early inside the 10, with fullback Robert Boss taking in the Rush's first two touchdowns, pounding through the Dallas defenders.
Dallas answered every Chicago score thanks to a strong first half from quarterback Collin Drafts, who benefitted from improved offensive line play in front of him, including a new center in Adrian Gonzalez.
"I thought they [the line] played well," Drafts said. "Any time you get a new center in, getting that exchange down is a big deal, and I didn't have any problems at all."
Drafts threaded the football through the Rush defense and to Lee for a 20-yard touchdown pass on the Vigilantes' first possession. He then hit open receiver Larry Brackins, who would miss the second half because of a knee injury, on a corner route to tie the score, 14-14.
The teams traded scores through the middle of the first half, with Chicago leading 28-21 in the second quarter.
Dallas struggled to move the ball on the ensuing possession, as Lee slowed on a deep post route on third-and-14 and was overthrown by Drafts. However, the receiver made up for it on the following fourth-down play with a long catch for a first down, made possible by good line protection.
"I lost track of the ball in the air, and by the time I turned, I thought the ball was going to be a little bit flatter than it was, and I didn't have the burst to catch up with it," Lee said about the incompletion.
Ingold took a different view.
"He slowed up coming out of his break," Ingold said. "Then we came back to him on fourth down and got the play."
Vigilantes receiver Kenny Henderson followed with a 10-yard touchdown catch, but Chicago receiver Nichiren Flowers caught his second of three touchdowns. Flowers had 168 receiving yards in the game.
Following a missed extra point attempt, Chicago attempted an onside kick with a minute left in the half, but Vigilantes defensive lineman Tommy Taggart grabbed the ball from the air and rumbled into the end zone. Kicker Matt Lewis followed with the extra point to give Dallas its only advantage, 35-34.
The Dallas pass rush forced two Rush holding penalties in the final possession of the half, pinning Chicago at the three. But quarterback Russ Michna was able to escape heavy pressure in the final play of the half to throw another touchdown pass.
On the first possession of the second half, Drafts was picked off inside the 10 to give Chicago the opening it needed to extend the lead. The Rush offense took advantage, scoring on a 1-yard run to push the score to 48-35.
"Honestly, [the game-changing play] was the pick that I threw," Drafts said. "I'll take the blame on it. The guy made a heck of a play, but I probably threw it a little bit late."
On the next possession, Drafts made a gutsy 11-yard scramble on third-and-long to bring it to fourth-and-4 before hitting Henderson for his second touchdown catch. Dallas cut the lead to six but would get no closer.
The teams traded scores, and Dallas remained down six before Flowers caught a short touchdown catch, barely extending over the goal line. Chicago made the two-point conversion to push the lead to 63-49.
Dallas cut the lead to seven with Lee's third touchdown catch of the night, but their onside kick attempt was batted into the stands by a Rush player.
Chicago attempted to run out the clock, but AFL teams can't take a knee and must attempt to gain yardage.
Michna fumbled with one second left, but Drafts' desperation heave as time expired was intercepted.
"It's just a lot of frustration, man," Lee said. "Because there's a lot of guys out here that are used to winning, and we're real competitors."
Ingold said he was just as frustrated with his team.
"I'm a competitive guy and I'm just calling [the players] out," Ingold said. "I'm tired of sitting back and watching this thing with guys not competing the way I want them to compete. I'm out there competing my butt off."
Josh Davis is an ESPNDallas.com intern and a writer for TCU's student newspaper, the Daily Skiff.