Andrew Carcich had to feel pretty grateful during the Tri-Cities Fever's 64-26 win over the Alaska Wild in front of just over 2,000 fans Saturday at Toyota Center.
Alaska brought a 20-man roster to Kennewick, but Carcich was the only original player from Alaska's 2010 roster before the team virtually disintegrated in midseason to be in the building. He signed with the Fever last week to back up starting quarterback Houston Lillard.
Carcich had some good memories of his former team, but he was more interested in making an impression for his new team.
Lillard played the first quarter and completed three passes -- one for a touchdown to Thyron Lewis for a 22-0 lead -- before giving way to Carcich.
The 6-foot-2, 220-pounder out of Bellhaven (Miss.) College made a strong first impression on his Fever teammates, completing 7 of 8 passes for 87 yards and two touchdowns. He even ran for another score in the fourth quarter.
All in all, a great debut.
"I was really excited. I haven't been on the field since April 17," Carcich said. "The third quarter scared me. I came out a little shaky, but in the fourth quarter I started taking what the defense gave me."
Tri-Cities worked quickly to get an early lead. A 49-yard field-goal return in the first quarter by Ray Little -- thanks to a crushing midfield block by Fred Poole -- showed the difference in firepower between the teams. Carcich hit Lewis for his second TD reception to give the Fever a 31-0 lead at the 9:22 mark of the second quarter.
"We didn't know anything about (Alaska), which was a little scary," said Tri-Cities coach Adam Shackleford, who made a point of pulling starters early to avoid unnecessary injuries. "We wanted a win, and we wanted to stay healthy. We accomplished both."
What was supposed to be an easy Fever victory against a team patched together with mostly semipro players from around Washington state, turned out to be more of a contest than expected.
The Wild got its offense on track in the second quarter, outscoring the Fever 18-6 after Alaska coach Carl Sundquist began sending 6-5, 345-pound defensive lineman Mitchell Johnson out wide as a receiver. Johnson used a pair of good hands to pull in two touchdown catches from James Phillips to help make a game of it.
"He's got some big mitts," Sundquist said. "He's very athletic for how big he is."
Despite getting shut out in the third quarter, the Fever scored 26 points in the fourth quarter to put the game away, including lineman Blair Boynton's fumble recovery in the end zone for a touchdown and Courtney Singleton's second TD run of the day.
"Even when it got to 38-18 we didn't panic," Shackleford said. "We played smart with no personal fouls. I think we're relieved to get through this."
Brandon Copeland led Tri-Cities receivers with 73 yards on three catches, including a fourth-quarter TD.
The Fever, which had already clinched a berth in the Indoor Football League playoffs with a win last week, continued to gain momentum with its fifth win in the last six games.
"I'm proud of where we are now," said Poole, who had six tackles, including one for loss. "We'll try to keep the momentum going into next week."