The Tri-Cities Fever had a new kicker Saturday night, and he paid off big-time.
Brady Beeson — who was signed after Fever coach Adam Shackleford released former Fever kicker Michael Taylor after last week’s 73-72 overtime loss to Sioux Falls — kicked a 24-yard field goal in overtime to give Tri-Cities a 52-49 Indoor Football League victory over the host Colorado Ice.
The victory makes the Fever 11-2 and outright clinches the Intense Conference title.
Beeson’s winning field goal was his fourth of the night — he was 4-for-5 on field goals and 4-for-6 on extra-point kicks, with the two misses being blocked.
“I just tried to stay calm and breathe out there,” said Beeson, out of the University of Saint Thomas in Minnesota. “I just tried to stick with my technique.”
“He’s a poised guy,” said Fever quarterback Houston Lillard, who passed for 266 yards and five touchdowns. “I kept looking at him all night and he had the same face.”
For Fever coach Adam Shackleford, it was his first career overtime victory as a coach.
“It feels good to win an overtime game,” said Shackleford. “Before tonight, I was 0-8 in overtime games as a coach.”
The contest was a shootout from the beginning.
The lead changed hands 11 times and was tied another three times.
“We didn’t expect it to be like that,” admitted Lillard. “We just had to fight through it.”
Steven Whitehead and Edward Berry led the way offensively for the Fever.
Whitehead caught seven passes for 97 yards and two touchdowns, while Berry had six catches for 92 yards and two TDs.Tri-Cities outgained Colorado 335-240.
Still, the Ice tied things at 49-49 with 1:44 to play when quarterback Jeremy Sanders scrambled to his left and lofted a pass to Mark Henderson for a 2-yard touchdown.
The Fever still had a chance to win in regulation, but Beeson’s 32-yard field goal attempt was just wide right.
In overtime — the second straight overtime game for Tri-Cities — the Ice had the ball first in the Kansas Plan setup from the Fever 20.
But Sanders, trying to hit Duane Brooks in the end zone, threw the pass the wrong way and Fever defensive back Deleon Gause intercepted it to stop the drive.
Lillard moved the team from the Ice 20 down to the 9 in five plays, setting up Beeson’s winning kick.
“We scored every time we had the ball but twice,” said Lillard. “we missed a couple of opportunities in the first half. We came out kind of flat. But we picked it up near the end.”
Tri-Cities finishes the regular season next Saturday at home against the Wyoming Cavalry. The Fever then has a bye the following week, and will open the IFL playoffs with a first-round game at home June 22.
The Intense Conference playoff teams are set after Allen (7-5) and Wichita (7-5) won on Saturday. Colorado is 8-5.
But the pairings aren’t settled yet.