Danger hang on for 47-46 victory over Fever

Danger hang on for 47-46 victory over Fever

By Ross Struss
Staff Writer

The Nebraska Danger opened the 2016 season with an excruciatingly close victory against the Tri-Cities Fever at the Heartland Event Center 47-46.

The Danger defense made their first statement of the year loud and clear as they stopped Tri-Cities on their first drive, forcing a field goal attempt which was missed by Fever kicker Steven Wakefield. On the ensuing possession, Danger quarterback Jameel Sewell hit Regginald Lewis Jr. for a 35-yard touchdown with 10:21 left in the first quarter. The Fever weren't down for long though. After getting horrible field possession on the kickoff, Fever quarterback Hunter Wanket completed a long pass to Dejaun Miller to tie the game at 7-7. Soon after, an errant pass by Jameel Sewell lead to an interception by Fever defensive back Boubacar Cissoko that ended with no score as the Fever once again missed a field goal. The Danger cashed in the next opportunity, driving 27 yards on five plays capping it off with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Lyle McCombs. The first quarter ended with the Nebraska Danger leading the Tri-Cities Fever 14-7.

"I thought we had a really strong first quarter. Jameel picked up right where he left off last season. And our defense made some big plays that helped give us the lead," head coach Mike Davis said. The second quarter started with another missed scoring opportunity for the Fever as Wakefield missed a third field goal. A deep pass by the Danger was picked off soon after by Stephen Godbolt, giving Tri-Cities a shot to make up for the missed points. After driving to midfield, the Fever completed a pass to DeJay Lester for 22 yards but fumbled in the end zone. After a scrum, Michael Taylor came up with the ball for Nebraska. The ensuing drive stalled after Jameel Sewell threw back-to-back incompletions and Cody Thornton missed his first kick of the day from 60 yards out. The Fever drove down to the one-yard-line and two plays later, quarterback Pat McCain found a big hole to the right and walked into the end zone. Following the PAT attempt, the Fever tied the Danger with 14 points with 5:47 left in the half. The following Danger possession, Nebraska kicker Cody Thorton made a 24-yard kick giving the Danger the lead 17-14 with 2:14 left in the half. Tri-Cities hit right back on the first play after the kick off as Wanket completed the pass to DeJay Lester for a 30-yard gain to the Nebraska 8-yard-line. Soon after, Pat McCain completed a pass to Akeem Foster for a touchdown giving the Fever their first lead of the night 21-17. Two penalties after the kickoff gave the Danger an opportunity to score again from the 11-yard-line. On the following play, Jameel Sewell ran the ball in on an improvised quarterback bootleg for a touchdown. Cody Thorton's extra point was blocked, but the Danger still came away with a 23-21 lead. A short kickoff gave the Fever an excellent shot at scoring before the end of the half. They nearly cashed it in with six seconds left but the touchdown was called back by a personal foul on Fever offensive lineman Viondy Merisma. The Fever then opted for a 36-yard field goal from Wakefield, giving Tri-Cities the lead, 24-23, to end the half.

"After we started so strong, it really turned into a back and forth matchup in the second quarter. A few breaks went both ways but in the end we just kept trading blows and we went into the half down a point," Davis said.

The second half started with a bang. On the second play from scrimmage, Sewell took the ball and ran 41 yards for a Danger touchdown, swinging the momentum and the lead back to the Danger with a score of 30-24. Tri-Cities moved the ball well on their first drive of the second half, but stalled out as the Danger defense stiffened up inside their own 10 yard-line, forcing a field goal and making it a three point game 30-27. After a methodical drive for Nebraska, Sewell punched in a one yard touchdown run, his second for the night, extending the Danger lead to nine with a score of 36-27. A stalled drive for each team led to two missed field goals respectively as the third quarter wound down. The Danger, however, got an interception courtesy of Harcourt Farquharson with 2:28 left in the third quarter but on the following play the Danger gave the ball right back to the fever with an interception of their own. The third quarter ended with the Danger still leading 36-27 but trailed in total yardage for the game with 183 yards versus 228 for the Fever.

The fourth quarter saw the Fever finish off a five play 39-yard touchdown drive cutting the Danger lead down to two points 36-34. The Danger answered back with a field goal, but chewed up 6:57 off the clock and extended their lead to 39-34. The Fever were not down and out though as they drove 30-yards in less than two minutes, scoring a touchdown on a pass to DeSean Martin from Pat McCain giving the Fever a late lead 40-39. However, the Tri-Cities defense couldn't hold back the Danger. Nebraska marched 19-yards in 2:21 and capped it with Jameel Sewell running the ball in for a third rushing touchdown. After a successful two-point conversion Nebraska regained the lead 47-40. In desperation mode, the Tri-Cities Fever hit a 24 yard pass from Pat McCain to Akeem Foster for a touchdown but Steven Wakefield missed yet another kick on the evening allowing the Danger to retain the lead 47-46 with 1:22 left in the game. Upon getting the ball back the Danger were able to run the clock out notching the first victory of the season 47-46.

"I thought our defense really stepped up to the plate in the second half. It slowed the tempo of the game and allowed us to make some plays on both sides of the ball that ultimately helped us win the game. We aren't perfect by any means, so now we get back to practicing and look forward to the Titans," Davis said.

The Danger next play March 4th against the Cedar Rapids Titans in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

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