Tri-Cities Fever Fall to Blizzard, 71-63 - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Tri-Cities Fever Fall to Blizzard, 71-63

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by Tri-Cities Fever Media Relations


KENNEWICK, WA - The Tri-Cities Fever was out of sorts all night on Saturday and could not complete a big second-half rally, falling 71-63 to the Green Bay Blizzard at the Toyota Center.

“We had some good moments,” said defensive lineman Jake Killeen. “But overall it was just bad. We had communication issues, we had busted coverages.”

There is not one player or coach that was happy with the outcome or the effort. They were quick to give Green Bay (1-1) a lot of credit, but it came down to their mistakes.  “We beat ourselves tonight,” said defensive back Rudell Crim. “We didn't play like we should.”

If there is a silver lining, The Fever don't have much time to think about the loss.  They will get right back to work as they prepare for a Friday game at Cedar Rapids (1-1).  “We need to play a good game to get this bad taste out of our mouths,” said Fever coach Adam Shackleford.

That bad taste stems from three turnovers (two interceptions) and 16 penalties for 164 yards. That does not include several penalties that were declined and several others that were only marked off a couple of yards because the team was backed up against its own goal line.

Despite all of the mistakes, the Fever had a chance to tie the game late. After a 1-yard touchdown run by Andrew Pierce, Crim recovered the onside kick. With the Fever driving, Dennis Kennedy caught a 16-yard pass, and appeared to have a chance to score, but as he cut toward the end zone, the ball slipped out of his hands.  Kennedy recovered and the Fever had the ball on the Green Bay 10-yard line.  However, on the very next play, quarterback Houston Lillard had the ball slip out of his hand and into Eric Banford's to seal the Blizzard win.  “I had looked off the corner and was going to throw the ball to (Dennis), and it just slipped,” Lillard said.

The Fever, coming off a 30-17 win over expansion Billings on opening night two weeks ago, got off to another slow start Saturday night. Green Bay jumped out to a 27-12 lead before Tri-Cities cut the margin to 30-20 at halftime.  Then came the Fever's big third quarter. Tri-Cities scored 21 straight points to take the lead 49-44, capped by a 52-yard missed kick return for a touchdown by Lionell Singleton. But Green Bay came right back, with a 3-play 36-yard drive to take a 51-49 advantage. The Blizzard forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, and one play later, Green Bay was in the end zone again with a 57-49 lead.  “This game goes so fast,” said receiver Steven Whitehead. “You think you get control of the game, and then it's gone just like that.”

The Fever offense showed more continuity in its second game, racking up the 63 points with 280 yards of total offense. Lillard completed 18 of 31 passes for 271 yards and three touchdowns. He also threw two interceptions.  Whitehead led all receivers with 9 catches for 136 yards and two touchdowns. Dejuan Miller added three catches for 59 yards. JD Woods in his first game of the season, had two catches for 31 yards and a touchdown.

“I don't even know,” Lillard said shaking his head after the game. “Too many penalties and too many missed opportunities.”
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