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Warbirds cannot hold 4-point halftime lead, lose to River City Rage

May 15, 2005 - National Indoor Football League (NIFL) - Dayton Bulldogs News Release

ST. CHARLES, Mo - River City overcame a 4-point halftime deficit, outscored the Dayton Warbirds 14-0 in the third quarter and the Atlantic Division East-leading Rage, behind quarterback Clay Groefsema, went on to a 48-37 win Saturday night in a National Indoor Football game.

Groefsema passed for four touchdowns and ran for another three as the Rage (7-1) took command of the NIFL’s Atlantic East over 2nd-place Dayton (5-3) by two games. Third-place Cincinnati (4-3) was idle, but the Marshals plat at the Warbirds on Saturday, May 21.

The Warbirds built a, 24-20, halftime lead on a pair of touchdown passes by Steve Bellisari, a Justin McClain field goal and an exciting 44-yard fumble recovery return by lineman Brandon Tisdale.

Trailing 20-17, Bellisari connected with Maurice Lee on a 3-yard flip with just six seconds left in the first half. McClain added the extra point to cap a seven-play, 31-yard drive that consumed the final 1:53 of the second quarter.

In the third quarter, Dayton was stymied twice on a pair of drives that totaled four minutes and 16 seconds. Add three costly penalties, and the Warbirds were forced to attempt field goals. McClain missed on a 36 yarder and then was forced to hit a 54-yarder just to get the Warbirds away from their own goal.

There were 11 penalties on Dayton, mostly in the second half, and seven on River City. Defensively, the Rage had the upper hand, particularly in the second 30 minutes.

Groefsema, out of the University of the Redlands, was 17 of 29 with no interceptions, 269 yards and four scores. He also ran for three TDs, totaled 13 carries for 23 yards in leading his team in that department.

Scott Pringel had a game-leading 114 yards on 10 catches, two of them for touchdowns for the Rage and Moses Regular four grabs for 67 yards and a score.

For Dayton, Pepe Pearson had a team-high 11 carries for 44 yards and a touchdown and Lee led receivers with four catches for 39 yards a a TD.

Bellisari, having one of his worst games, was only nine of 23 passing, including two interceptions. His 90 yards was the lowest total of the season.

The former Ohio State quarterback Bellisari, was spelled by Kerrick Cooper in the final 2:54 with River City leading 48-31. Cooper connected on seven of 12 for 61 yards and a two-yard toss to Brandon Pedraza for a score.

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