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Fever Fall Short Against Billings

May 2, 2006 - National Indoor Football League (NIFL) - Tri-Cities Fever News Release

Kennewick, WA. 05/01/06. The Tri-Cities Fever (4-2) are coming off a very disappointing loss on the road to the Billings Outlaws (6-1) 44-40. With a minute and a half to go in the game, the Fever fumbled away their opportunity to take over sole possession of first place in the Pacific Conference North Division. The Fever dominated nearly every single statistical category. They had the advantage in first downs 16-9, had the advantage in total offense 284-155. They had the advantage in time of possession 40:40 to 19:20. The Fever defense only gave up 35 of the 44 points by the Outlaws.

The biggest difference in the game that was in the Outlaws favor was their kick-off returns. Anthony Candler only returned just four kick-offs, but he made them count with 135 yards and a 55 yard touchdown. In contrast, the Fever's Emery Beckles returned six kicks for just 81 yards on the night. "Our kick-off coverage unit struggled most of the night," said head coach Dan Whitsett. "It was a combination of poor kicks and poor coverage at the same time. We have not had consistency in our kick-off coverage all season and we need to get on top of that right away. We can not play as well as we did in Billings and basically lose the game because of kick-off coverage."

Quarterback Michael Spriggs had a "solid" performance according to Whitsett. He was 23 of 38 passing for 251 yards and 3 touchdowns with no interceptions. He is the first quarterback to throw for more than 250 yards against the Outlaws this season. "Michael did a pretty good job keeping us moving up and down the field," said Whitsett. "We had to talk through a lot of things on the field as our offense is very extensive. On paper the offense worked the way it is suppose to, with several receivers getting multiple catches. He did a solid job taking what the defense gave him and battled the rush all night. I was pleased with his performance with just two practices under his belt, and facing such a talented team in the Outlaws in those conditions."

Quarterback Joe Wiser is expected to be close to 100% at the start of practice this week. Whitsett says that he will evaluate both quarterbacks this week in practice and make his decision on a starter by Thursday. Receiver Jarvis Dunn is also attempting to make it back into the line-up this week with his high ankle sprain. Offensive and defensive lineman Aaron "Pudge" Retzlaff is recovering from his scope surgery on his knee and may be out just one more week.

The Fever added a nose guard to their roster in 6'2" and 300 pound Scott Young. Young was the starting nose guard for the Billings Outlaws this season prior to asking for his release last week. He immediately called the Fever and was signed in time for the game against Billings. Young played his college ball in LaGrande, at Eastern Oregon University. He is a three year NIFL veteran, spending his first two seasons with the Wyoming Cavalry. The Fever will release defensive lineman Kevin Lowe to make room for Young on the roster. Whitsett is excited about the opportunity to get Young. "With the addition of Antwan Harris last week and Scott Young this week, we really feel that we are getting our d-line where it needs to be for the second half of this season."

The Fever host the Big Sky Thunder Saturday night at the Toyota Center at 7:05 p.m. Tickets are available at the Toyota Center Box Office or by calling TicketsWest at 1-800-325-SEAT.

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