Photo courtesy of Sarah Gordon/Try-City Herald
Kennewick, WA - Another Tri-Cities Fever game. Another nail biter. It's been that kind of year so far for the Tri-Cities Fever. The difference this time, the Fever came out on top.
Quarterback Pat McCain plowed through the line to score the game-winning touchdown with 8.3 seconds left in the game as the Fever held off the Billings Wolves 47-41 on Saturday night at the Toyota Center.
"It feels great to get the first win," said first-year Fever coach Ryan Lingenfelder. "I'm happy for our guys. They kept fighting."
"This was a big win for us," McCain said. "We just needed to stick with it and finish it out."
The Fever, which had lost its first two games of the season by a combined 10 points, led 40-21 with less than 12 minutes left in the game. That lead quickly evaporated and the first win of the season looked to be slipping away as Dak Britt hit Austin Coleman with 19.4 seconds left in the game to give the Wolves a 41-40 lead.
However, a good return by Dee Maggitt Jr. and a pair of penalties (one on the touchdown and one on the failed 2-point conversion) put the ball at the Wolves' 3-yard line with 8.3 seconds remaining. McCain gave the Fever the lead back on the next play with his second rushing touchdown of the game.
"My offensive line was great," McCain said. "It all starts with them."
Britt's final attempt and the game-winning touchdown sailed out of the end zone as time expired.
"That guy is a gamer," Lingenfelder said of McCain, who made his first start of the season. "You can't shake that kid."
McCain finished the night 12 of 30 passing for 119 yards and four touchdowns. He also led the team in rushing with 46 yards on 10 carries and two scores. Dejuan Miller led the Fever with six catches for 47 yards and a touchdown. Akeem Foster had three catches for 43 yards and two touchdowns.
The Fever defense turned up the pressure in the second half, creating four Wolves turnovers. All totaled the Wolves turned the ball over five times. Bradley Njoku led the way with two interceptions, one he returned 18 yards for a touchdown to give the Fever a 34-21 lead in the third quarter. Additionally, Maggitt Jr. recorded two interceptions for the Fever.
"The defense really stepped up in the second half," Lingenfielder said. "They did their job tonight."
The Fever (1-2) is back home Friday night to take on the Cedar Rapids Titans (1-2). Kickoff is 7:05 p.m.