News from the nest

05/20/03 RiverHawks Press Release

The Tennessee RiverHawks(3-5) lost a close game this past weekend to the Lake Charles LandSharks(7-2) 36-28.  The RiverHawks traveled to Laredo, TX to take on the LandSharks in a game that was scheduled as a home game for the RiverHawks.  The RiverHawks ran into trouble early as Quarterback Steve Christie went down with a broken collarbone on the first play of the ballgame.  Quarterback Bryan White was not able to make the trip because he had undergone knee surgery the same week.  The RiverHawks had to turn to Thomas “Bo” McCray to step in and play the Quarterback position, something he had not done since high school.  McCray had a rough start throwing the ball tossing three interceptions.  The RiverHawks also lost running back Brandon Walker on the four play of the game to a heel injury.  With the injuries the  RiverHawks only trailed the LandSharks 17-10 at the half.  GM/Offensive Coordinator Garmez Parks said, “Our defense kept us in the ballgame.  They played sharp and with great intensity.  They really picked up the slack that was left because of the injuries to Christie and Walker on the offensive side of the ball”.  The RiverHawks defense kept them in the game.  Even though the offense turned the ball over four times in the first half the defense held the LandSharks to just 17 points in the first half. 

The second half was a totally different ballgame as McCray shook off the mistakes and rallied the RiverHawks to come within three points of the LandSharks.  Birdie Dockery picked up the slack in the running game rushing 21 times for 101 yards.  McCray added 12 rushes for 2 touchdowns. The comeback started with the RiverHawks down 27-12 when McCray scrambled and broke several tackles to get in the end zone.  McCray capped off the scoring drive with the two-point conversion run to make the game 27-20.  Lake Charles answered with a 27 yard field goal to make it 30-20 with two minutes left.  With 1:47 left on the clock the RiverHawks were not finished.  On the first play of the drive McCray connected with Jefferson on a 45-yard touchdown pass.  The pass was a little under thrown but as the defense tipped the ball in the air Jefferson kept his balance and hauled in the catch for a touchdown.  Dockery capped off the scoring drive with the two-point conversion.  The game was down to two points 30-28 when Lake Charles running back Dave Winbush took a hand off and ran 20 yards for the score.  The game seemed to be over but the RiverHawks blocked the extra point and gave themselves an opportunity to tie game with the score 36-28.  The RiverHawks drove the ball in the final minute to the Laredo 20 yard line, but on fourth down McCray’s pass to Jefferson fell short and the RiverHawks come back was denied.  McCray finished the night with 113 yards passing, Birdie Dockery rushed for 101 yards, Jefferson had 6 catches for 112 yards and 2 touchdowns and Broderick Simpson led the defense with 8 tackles.

This week the RiverHawks(3-5) take on Atlantic East opponent Evansville Bluecats(0-9) in Knoxville, TN.  The game is huge for the RiverHawks as they look to get back on the winning track and desperately need a conference win to keep their slim playoff chances alive.  Garmez Parks said, “I’ve watched a lot of tape on Evansville and their offense is starting to look like the plays that I taught to some of their players last year.  We know their offensive scheme and what they’re going to try and accomplish.  Our defense will have to be as sharp as they were against Lake Charles to help pick up the slack for our injured offense”.  The RiverHawks will try and get back to their league leading rushing attack to help take pressure off Quarterback Bo McCray.  Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

Laredo wrap-up

The Tennessee RiverHawks played an unusual home game this past Saturday.  There was a great turnout and the fans were loud and excited, but the game was not played in Knoxville, TN rather it was played in Laredo, TX.  The RiverHawks reached an agreement with the league to play the Lake Charles LandSharks in Laredo at the Laredo Entertainment Center.  The RiverHawks arrived in Laredo, TX early Friday morning and the excitement was in the air.  All day Friday the people of Laredo were approaching the team in the hotel for pictures and autographs; then the team went to dinner and were bombarded by people that couldn’t wait for the game.  Saturday the turnout was better than the entire home games in Knoxville put together.  The attendance at the LEC reached close to 4,000 people, there were even people tailgating an hour and a half before the game.  The stage was set for a great game, but bad luck struck the RiverHawks. 

On the first play of the game for the RiverHawks starting Quarterback Steve Christie completed a 17-yard pass but was hit as he released the ball.  After the play Christie went down with a broken collarbone.  The problem for the RiverHawks was that their other Quarterback Bryan White missed the trip because he had knee surgery three days before the game.  The RiverHawks looked towards their Wide Receiver Thomas “Bo” McCray to step in to the Quarterback position.  McCray went into the game and took the second snap of the game, something he had not done since high school.  McCray had a rough first half throwing three interceptions, but the second half was a different story.  With QB Christie and RB Brandon Walker out with injuries McCray shook off the first half mistakes and heroically led the RiverHawks back from a 27-12 third quarter deficit to come within three points of the LandSharks before losing in the final two minutes.  GM/Offensive Coordinator Garmez Parks said, “Bo had one of the best performances ever in the history of the NIFL, he played with every bit of heart a player could give.  He stepped into an uncomfortable and unfamiliar position and excelled”.  Even with stitches in his elbow from an injury in the first half, McCray rushed and threw for two touchdowns. Knowing that McCray was inexperienced at the position the rest of the RiverHawks stepped up as well.  Bunny Jefferson made a circus catch in the second half to help lead the rally.  Jefferson finished the night with six catches for 112 yards and two touchdowns.  The defense also came on strong recovering from 4 first half offensive turnovers to hold the LandSharks to just 17 points in the first half.  GM/Offensive Coordinator Garmez Parks said, “Our defense kept us in the ballgame.  They played sharp and with great intensity.  They really picked up the slack that was left because of the injuries to Christie and Walker on the offensive side of the ball”. McCray finished the night with 113 yards passing, Birdie Dockery rushed for 101 yards and Broderick Simpson led the defense with 8 tackles.

The fans of Laredo were looking forward to a great game and the NIFL brought them two great teams the RiverHawks and LandSharks.  They were not disappointed as the game was close till the final minute.  The city of Laredo, Mayor Floreze, the staff of the Laredo Entertainment Center, and the fans were very friendly and welcoming to the RiverHawks, and helped put on an entertaining NIFL game.  The city of Laredo is currently being looked at as a possible expansion city for a NIFL team and with the way they hosted this contest it will be no surprise if the city of Laredo has a home team to cheer for next year.   

 

 
 
 
 

 

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