The Tri-Cities Fever spent the majority of Saturday night’s Indoor Football League game in Bemidji, Minn., trailing the Axemen.
But in the final minute the Fever eked by the Axemen to win a key contest 51-50.
Tri-Cities trailed Bemidji 50-43 inside the final minute and on the Axemen 2 yard-line.
That’s when Fever head coach Adam Shackleford sent big defensive lineman Harold Love into the game at fullback, and linebacker Brandon Wilson at tailback.
Fever quarterback Houston Lillard took the snap, turned, and handed the ball to Wilson, who followed Love and his offensive linemen into the end zone for a touchdown with 55 seconds remaining in the game.
That made it 50-49 Bemidji, and that’s when Shackleford elected to go for the 2-point conversion.
The Fever found a mismatch on one side of the field — with four Tri-Cities players facing three Axemen — and Lillard pitched the ball to Steven Whitehead, who got into the end zone for the 2-point conversion and a 51-50 lead.
Bemidji still had plenty of time to do something, and Axemen quarterback Cody Kirby moved his team from its own 13 down to the Tri-Cities 19 with just 16 seconds remaining.
Bemidji kicker Josiah Powell set up for a game-winning 36-yard field goal attempt.
But the Fever’s Love blocked the kick, and Tri-Cities ran out the clock.
The victory gives the Fever a 4-6 record, with a road game next Saturday at Texas.
“We can see the light at the end of the playoff tunnel,” said Shackleford.The Axemen fall to 5-5.
Lillard finished with 226 yards passing for five touchdowns. Fever receiver Jackie Chambers had nine catches for 95 yards and two TDs, while Whitehead had five catches for 69 yards and two TDs.
Fever defensive lineman Brandon Rankin sacked Kirby three times. Tri-Cities DB Donyae Coleman led the team with 10 tackles.