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Staying Alive

Posted 7/25/2011

By Terry Licht

Leader-Telegram Staff

It wasn't the prettiest of wins. It was an ugly, flag-filled and physical
rivalry matchup.

But for the Chippewa Valley Predators, it means they are moving on.

The Predators used a three-touchdown day from L.A. Anderson to take down
their intracity rival the Eau Claire Crush, 28-12, in the wild-card round of
the Northern Elite Football League playoffs on -Saturday at Carson Park.

The dagger came late in the third quarter. Just after the Crush showed a
little life by scoring on a 3-yard plunge by Adam Kuehn to make the score
20-6, the Predators responded in a hurry, scoring in three plays on a
35-yard strike from Anderson to Rashem Sharpe to push the lead to 28-6 to
end the quarter.

"It was huge," Predators coach Martin Adams said. "We saw a one-on-one
matchup with Sharpe. We just took a shot. We felt like we had a good
opportunity with his athleticism and he came up big."

The game started off without much fireworks, with the only score in the
first quarter-and-a-half coming on a 47-yard field goal by the Predators'
Weston Kirby.

"We were just trying to ground and pound in the beginning," Adams said. "We
were trying to find where the opportunities were against their defense. Once
we found them, we took advantage of them later in the ballgame."

The Predators finally broke free late in the second quarter when Anderson
found Nick Frase down the left side for a 52-yard bomb to take the 10-0
lead.

The Predators got a gift at the end of the half too. With time running down,
an ill-advised pass from Crush quarterback Justin Marion found its way into
the arms of linebacker Mitch Sperger, allowing Chippewa Valley to put up
three more points going into half.

The Predators took control of the game early in the third. After recovering
a Crush fumble, Anderson wasted no time, tossing a 24-yard pass to Vince
Furby to make the score 20-0. 

"We just looked from last week, what they did, and we took advantage of it,"
Anderson said. "From the spots they were blitzing at, we were just putting
the ball where they were bringing pressure at."

The fourth quarter brought the Crush's last attempt to crawl back in the
game. They found the end zone halfway through the quarter on a Marion 1-yard
sneak to make the score 28-12. But the ensuing drive ended on a
interception, ending their season.

"We played as hard as we could," Crush coach Fred Hoversholm said. "We got
back in the game. But we didn't win today, they did. But we accomplished a
lot this year. I'm proud of my guys."

Anderson ended his day completing 8 of 15 passes for 174 yards and three
touchdowns.

With this win the Predators moved on to the NEFL Divisional round to face
the top-seeded Fox Valley Force at 4 p.m. Saturday in Appleton. Although
they haven't faced the Force this year, Adams said the Predators won't
change how they prepare.

"We're going to do the same thing we did to prepare for this game," he said.
"The biggest thing is penalty reduction, mistake reduction and the turnover
reduction. We just have to continue to be consistent and just continue to
get better."
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