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Let's do it again

Posted 7/18/2011

By Nick Gourdoux

Leader-Telegram staff

The Eau Claire Crush and the Chippewa Valley Predators faced off on Saturday
at Carson Park in a game that had no impact on the Northern Elite Football
League playoffs.

That doesn't mean it didn't matter.

"This is a heated and intense battle, so next week we need to make sure we
turn it up two notches," said Predators safety Ukee Dozier, whose
interception in the end zone sealed a 19-17 victory for Chippewa Valley.

The same two teams will meet again next Saturday. The Fox Valley Force beat
the Green Bay Gladiators, 25-8, to clinch the top seed in the American
Conference. The Predators are the No. 2 seed and host the third-seeded
Crush.

The Crush gave the Predators something to think about this week and nearly
stole a victory Saturday night.

Eau Claire drove inside the Predators' 20-yard line late in the game before
Dozier intercepted Justin Marion in the back of the end zone.

"Based on his tendencies, I could tell he was trying to take the big shot,"
Dozier said. "I was trying to bait him into throwing the comeback, which he
did.

"It just so happened that he got a little bit of air under it, which gave me
enough time to get it."

Had the pass fallen incomplete, the Crush could have settled for a 30-yard
field goal. Crush kicker Jeremy Corder made a 35-yard field goal earlier in
the game.

Dozier's interception was just one example of the Predators' defense giving
the Crush offense problems in the second half. The Predators recorded four
second-half sacks, one of which knocked Marion out of the game for a couple
possessions.

"It was my ribs," Marion said. "I got a cheap shot the week before, and they
happened to hit the same spot."

With Marion out, Chippewa Valley dominated the third quarter. The Predators
first scored in the quarter on a 6-yard Vince Furby run, his second
touchdown of the game.

"We were able to pound the ball up the middle," Furby said. "That's what we
try to do every game. Me and C.J. (Okogeri) got some yards up the middle,
which opened up our passing game."

The second touchdown in the quarter came when Tyler Kolumbus recovered a
blocked punt in the end zone.

When Marion was finally able to return, the Crush marched down the field to
score on a 3-yard pass to Chris Haynes early in the fourth quarter to cut
the deficit to 19-17.

Marion's interception was the closest either team came to scoring again.

The Predators finally clinched the win when quarterback L.A. Anderson gained
5 yards on a fourth-and-1 deep in Crush territory. The first down enabled
the Predators to run off the remaining 1 minute, 41 seconds in the game.

The rivalry will continue next week when the teams play again at Carson Park
in the opening round of the NEFL playoffs.

"I feel good about our team," Furby said. "They won the first half, but we
won the second."
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