Red Dogs can smell playoff spot

05/16/02 Rapid City Journal
RAPID CITY -- The Rapid City Red Dogs are looking to give their hopes of making the National Indoor Football League playoffs a boost tonight when the Tri-City Diesel visit the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center for a non-conference game.

The game, which kicks off at 7:05 p.m., mark the third straight non-conference game for Rapid City (4-5 overall, 2-4 Pacific North Division). The game is important nonetheless as the Red Dogs cannot afford to suffer another loss if they want to push into the playoffs.

"Last week, we figured we could lose one more out of this last group of games," said Rapid City head coach Dan Maciejczak, "but now we're sitting where our back is against the wall, and we can't do anything but win."

The Red Dogs fell to Sioux City 48-45 in overtime, allowing a two-touchdown lead at the half to slip away in the process.

"The third quarter they made their push on us, and we didn't get anything done," said Maciejczak.

It marked the second straight week Rapid City had posted a commanding first-half performance only to let its opponent back into the game over the final 30 minutes. Two weeks ago at Kearney, Neb., Tri-City came back from 12 points down at the half but lost when the Diesel couldn't convert a two-point conversion to tie in the final seconds of the game.

"That third quarter seems to be killing us," Maciejczak said. "We've been fortunate a couple times and squeaked out a victory, but (last week at Sioux City) we had a fumble they recovered on our two and they returned a kickoff on us for a touchdown.

"If we come out and play four quarters of football, we shouldn't have a problem," the Red dogs coach said.

Maciejczak said Tri-City may abandon its usual 3-2 defensive front in favor of a 3-1, which helped the Diesel shut down Rapid City's passing attack after halftime.

"They traditionally run a 3-2 defense, which is a run-preventive type deal," he said. "Most teams don't use that against us. Tri-City even got out of it second half, because we didn't run the ball very much in the beginning."

With defensive end Al Everett still sidelined with a hamstring injury, Maciejczak signed 6-4, 310-pound Brandon Williams, who played at Simpson College. Williams, who also played for the Peoria Pirates of af2, will play both offensive tackle and defensive end for the Red Dogs.

Also out this week is running back Dymon Adams (foot injury). Johnnie Johnson (pulled quad) is replacing Adams on the 21-man active roster. Tom Skoog, who has seen limited downs because of an knee injury, will also see increased action.

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