KENNEWICK -- The last time Dennis Kennedy found the end zone four times, he was a college running back for Akron University.
Well, he did it again Saturday night, scoring four touchdowns as the Tri-Cities Fever defeated the Seattle Timberwolves 63-33 in front of 2,783 fans in an Indoor Football League game at the Toyota Center.
Fever quarterback Houston Lillard took notice.
"Dennis can run the ball. He can catch the ball," said Lillard. "I've been trying to find ways to get him the ball more."
Kennedy is glad Lillard believes in him.
"I think it's just more him being confident with me," Kennedy said. "I want the ball."
That's good. Because no one on offense was getting it early.
The Fever held a 14-0 early in the game, thanks to a Dennis Rogan interception of Seattle quarterback Charles McCullum's first play on offense.
Five plays later, Kennedy ran the ball in for a 2-yard TD for a 7-0 lead.
On the ensuing series, Fever defensive back Lionell Singleton intercepted McCullum again and returned it for a 40-yard TD and 14-0 lead.
But things began to bog down from there, as Lillard failed to lead the team into the end zone on the next two series.
McCullum, meanwhile, got the Timberwolves back even at 14-all with a 6-yard TD pass to former Fever player Jarvis Dunn, and a 35-yard scoring strike to Andre Piper-Jordan.
"Man, I don't know," Lillard lamented. "It was a little bit of a struggle. It wasn't so much they were doing anything as it was we were stopping ourselves."
Fever coach Adam Shackleford was afraid a slow start might happen.
"I kind of expected it," Shackleford said. "We had such a great game last week, they came out and played man-to-man, and Houston was a little off.
"Our guys battled, but we've got to put teams away when we get up 14-0 like that."
It finally happened with 5:55 to play in the first half, when Lillard found Steven Whitehead for a 40-yard TD pass and a 21-14 lead. The Fever would never trail again.
"We started out too much trying to beat them over the top," said Lillard. "But we were working on getting Steven isolated with one of their guys. We called the play and it happened."
Lillard would finish with five TD passes and 212 yards after his slow start.
And the Fever defense did an admirable job of trying to contain McCullum.
"Our goal was to hit him tonight, between the whistles and legally," said Shackleford. "The difference between him beating us last year and not this year, is that this year our defensive linemen are so athletic that they can run him down."
Any chances that the Timberwolves were going to make a comeback died late in the third quarter, with the Fever leading 42-27. Seattle had a first-and-goal situation at the Tri-Cities 3.
But the T-Wolves couldn't get into the end zone, and on fourth down, Fever linebacker Brandon Wilson intercepted McCullum's pass in the end zone and ran it out.
Lillard would lead the offense down the field, and Kennedy ran the ball in from 3 yards out for another score and a 49-27 lead.
"I'm kind of new to playing linebacker," said Wilson. "But "Fever defensive lineman Christopher) Lyles tipped the pass up in the air and I grabbed it."
Backup QB Antwon Young got in on the action near the end of the game, coming up with one of the more exciting plays of the night.
The ball was snapped on the ground and Young, in the Shotgun, scrambled to pick it up near his end zone. He evaded two tackles, then saw Kennedy downfield all by himself and fired a laser beam.
"I already thought I was in the end zone," said Kennedy, who almost had too much time to think about catching the pass. "I thought about that. I didn't want to drop the ball. I just dropped on the ground when I caught it and rolled into the end zone."
Now 7-1 and heading next Saturday to Fairbanks, the Fever players are starting to feel good about themselves.
"Going into the season, you can't envision a 7-1 start," said Singleton. "I knew we had some talent. I played here near the end of the season last year, and let me tell you it is a different vibe right now. We do everything together."