By Brenda Rodriguez
Updated March 31, 2005 01:00 PM

In the first half of Tuesday’s two-hour Amazing Race, a re-energized Ray Housteau and Deana Shane seemed to be the team to beat. Ray, 44, a stockbroker, and Deana, 27, a marketing and promotions executive, set their bickering aside and managed to cross a narrow suspension bridge 30 stories above the ground. But as the show entered its second hour, and the off-and-on daters from Youngstown, Ohio, began the next leg of the race to South Africa, the duo couldn’t keep it together. A tough challenge grinding corn and a losing foot race with brothers Brian and Greg Smith led to their demise. Ray and Deana spoke to PEOPLE about what went wrong and where they stand as a couple today.

So, what went wrong?
Deana: The corn lady!
Ray: The corn! I think Gretchen and Meredith paid her off! (Laughs)

Okay, so you had to grind corn and have someone approve your work. How hard was that?
Ray: An hour and a half of grinding. We pounded that corn harder than anybody. Our hands were literally bleeding. I did not understand how anybody could pound that corn more and harder than we did. Nothing seemed to matter.

At the end it came down to a foot race between you and the brothers. Were they just faster?
Ray: We didn’t know they were there until the last second.
Deana: When I put the car in park, I went to jump out and I saw this car pull up next to me. I saw the one brother and I thought, “Where did they come from?” I knew right there and then that we were done.

Speaking of the brothers and the car crash, much was made of Rob and Amber not stopping to see if they were okay after the crash. What are your thoughts?
Deana: We did stop but they said not to get out of the car, that everything was okay. We didn’t find out until afterwards when everybody started complaining that Rob and Amber just passed them by and didn’t ask if they’re okay.
Ray: I didn’t judge Rob and Amber because I didn’t know what happened and the first time I saw (it) was on TV yesterday. But they’re not cold-hearted.

Ray, you said you couldn’t accept Deana as she is because she lacked that competitive fire. Do you still feel the same way?
Ray: I’m a jerk when it comes to competition. I get too intense and I’ve got to tone it down. It wasn’t necessarily that Deana wasn’t as competitive as I needed her to be, it’s just that maybe I was more than I needed to be. We decided not to compete together any more and the rest of our relationship is great.

So, you’re still together?
Deana: Yes, we’re getting married in May. The day after Christmas he popped the question.
Ray: We attribute (getting engaged) to the Race because we literally couldn’t move forward or backward in our relationship. I started appreciating more of what I had in Deana during the Race. I don’t know if that would have happened without it.