Rookie John Barnett scored on a one-yard run with 3:32 left for his second touchdown, giving the Los Angeles Express a 14-10 victory over the Denver Gold today.
Los Angeles (6-6) leads the Pacific Division; Denver (4-8) lost its fifth straight. It was the first game as interim coach for Denver's Charley Armey, who took the job when Red Miller was fired Thursday by owner Ron Blanding.
The Gold said 39,040 tickets were sold, about 8,000 below the team's season average. There were more than 6,000 no-shows.
Banners were displayed throughout Mile High Stadium with such sentiments as "Blanding--Epitome of Stupidity," "Without Red There Is No Gold, Only Black-Heart Blanding," and "Bozo Blanding, Ron Eats Quiche."
Injured offensive lineman Glenn Hyde, one of Denver's cocaptains, appeared at the coin toss at midfield wearing a red T-shirt bearing the inscription, "For All You've Done, This One's For You" on the front and "Red and Whitey" on the back. "Whitey" apparently referred to Whitey Dovell, who resigned as offensive line coach after Miller was fired.
On the winning drive, Los Angeles got the ball at midfield on a punt and moved to the Denver 39. On fourth and three, quarterback Mike Rae, anticipating a blitz, completed a short pass over the Denver defense to Wilbert Haslip, who ran 26 yards to the six. Barnett scored three plays later.
Rae was starting in place of rookie Tom Ramsey, who had an injured Achilles' tendon.
"Mike Rae gives our team a common cool that is good for us," said Los Angeles Coach Hugh Campbell. "We left him in for that reason--he was doing a good job, plus it was a bonus to keep Tom out of there."