Not one of the Tri-Cities Fever’s players or coaches were happy with the outcome last Saturday night. It wasn’t so much that they lost to the Billings Wolves, it was more about how they lost.
The Fever came out sluggish and made several mistakes in the second half as Billings eked out a 48-45 win at the Toyota Center.
The Fever has a chance to turn things around tonight on the road against the same Billings Wolves.
Kickoff is 6:15 p.m.
It is the fourth meeting of the season between the two Intense Conference foes. The Fever (7-4) has won two of the first three meetings. Billings (3-8) has won two straight games, and is 3-3 over its last six
Despite the loss last Saturday, the Fever clinched its first playoff berth since 2012. The Fever will play Nebraska for the right to play in the IFL championship in a playoff game later next month.
But before even thinking about that, the Fever has three regular season games remaining, and after last week’s performance, Coach Adam Shackleford thinks the playoffs will be a short-lived experience if
some changes are not made with his team.
“We are not playing at that level right now,” he said. “We have to get better.”
That starts tonight.
The Fever is coming off a loss to Billings where it squandered a 10-point second half lead. There were turnovers (3), penalties (14), and missed opportunities.
Tri-Cities had a chance to win or tie the game and send it to overtime in the waning seconds.
Quarterback Dominique Blackmon came in off the bench for the final drive and got the Fever within field goal range. But with 6 seconds remaining, Brady Beeson’s 30-yard field went wide right as the Wolves held on for their second straight victory.
Billings took the lead when Julian Laing scored on a 2-yard run with 17 seconds remaining to give the Wolves a 48-45 lead. This was less than 30 seconds after Rudell Crim scooped up a D.A. Allen fumble and raced 27 yards to put the Fever ahead 45-41, and it appeared the Fever had escaped for the win.
NOTES: The Fever has won four straight road games and is 4-1 on the road this season … Billings is 1-4 at home, winning its last game, a 70-25 victory over Bemidji … The last time these two teams met in Billings, the Fever scored 42 second-half points to pull away for a 58-30 victory … The Fever activated running back Dennis Kennedy this week … The Fever offense ranks fourth in the league, scoring 47.1 points per game; Billings is seventh at 41.4 per game … The two teams are tied for fifth in the league in points allowed per game (45.1) … Rookie Andrew Pierce is tied for the league lead in rushing touchdowns with 18, adding one to his total last week … Steven Whitehead, the league’s leading receiver is coming off a 4-catch, 57-yard performance. He is averaging more than 80 receiving yards per game and leads the league with 805 yards and is second in catches with 63 … Defensive end Jake Killeen is tied for third in the league with seven sacks and is second in tackles-for-loss with 17.5 … Troy Sanders leads the league with 62 tackles.