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Blocked Kick Sinks Preds

Posted 4/30/2012

By Nick Gourdoux Leader-Telegram staff 

The Chippewa Valley Predators lost a heartbreaker to the Minnesota Sting, 23-22 on Saturday night at Carson Park .

Trailing by one, the Predators marched down the field in less than a minute to set up a 45-yard Weston Kirby field goal attempt, but the kick was blocked.

 "It was good," Kirby said, referring to his kick. "We wanted to get the ball down to the 30, and we did. I hit the sweet spot and it was right up the middle."

The Predators got the ball back at their own 26-yard line with 1:06 left to go. Quarterback Keith Richardson drove the team down to the Sting 30 in nine plays to set up the field goal attempt with a little more than a second left on the clock.

The Predators seemed to lock the game up when Richardson scored on a bootleg with 1:25 left to play. The score gave the Predators a 22-17 lead. The touchdown was set up by a C.J. Okogeri interception on a screen pass.

"It was getting easy to read as the game went along," Okogeri said. "It bounced off his hand, and I just took it. I just wanted to get in position for our guys to score."

On the ensuing Sting possession, quarterback Tim Bona found wide receiver Josh Swift on the first play for a 70-yard touchdown.

"We knew they were a good football team," Predators coach Martin Adams said. "This was fun, but this was one where I'm still proud of our team. I was happy to see the way our offense marched down after we blew the coverage on that last defensive stand."

Excluding the go-ahead touchdown play, the Predators played stout defense. They allowed just 86 rushing yards on 25 carries and held Bona to eight completions on 16 passes. The defense was aided by 11 Sting penalties for 90 yards.

On the offensive side, however, the Predators were not their consistently dominant selves.

Richardson started the game off with interceptions on his first two pass attempts. He rebounded nicely, however, to finish with 139 yards on 16 completions and 43 rushing yards on nine carries.

Aaron Woodard, the Predators' leading rusher last week against the Spartans, managed just 43 yards on 17 carries.

Vince Furby was relatively quiet too. Furby totaled 31 yards on six rushing attempts and 33 yards on four receptions.

Tight End Ben Yetter, who earned all-star honors a year ago, caught Richardson 's only touchdown pass.

The other Predators score came on a 53-yard punt return by Joseph Mapson in the third quarter. The Predators went for two following the score, but a Montae Bailey penalty on the punt return backed them up to the 17-yard line. The Richardson pass fell incomplete in the back of the end zone.

The Predators' regular season begins in three weeks with a rematch of last year's conference championship against the Fox Valley Force at Carson Park on May 19.

"I think things will change, feeling this pain right now," Adams said. "We'll be fine."

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