'Cats one loss closer to win

05/21/03 Jeff Gregory

The more things change, the more they stay the same.  Such was the case last week as the Evansville BlueCats fell to the Rockers in an 81-74 slugfest in Austin, Texas. New personnel, successful PAT attempts, and the victory in the stats book were different.  What was the same was the team’s weekly shuffling of the line-up, giving up a lot of points, and the final scoreboard outcome.

Although many people are growing weary of the “we are almost there” mantra, the statistics from Saturday’s game bear out that assertion.   The ‘Cats out passed Austin by 92 yards (250-158).  The total yards were also lopsided in Evansville’s favor 382 to 258.

It was clear that Quarterback Akili Roberson (pictured right) needed last week off to heal the strain on his ankle.  Against Austin, Roberson finally returned to his all star level from a year ago. He did a masterful job of reading the defense and taking what it gave them.  Roberson was 22-40 for 276 yards without an interception.  His passing prowess was highlighted by eight touchdown receptions.  In addition to the air attack, Roberson scrambled for 98 yards on ten attempts. 

As predicted, Levron Williams has started to make his presence felt in the reception department.  Williams benefited from Roberson’s performance by leading the team in receptions (seven) and touchdowns (four). 

Williams new role has made room for Mike Cosie to take more of the rushing duties.  Cosie, who Coach Avery Attadero has dubbed, “the best running back in the league”, carried the ball nine times for 27 yards and a TD.  In addition, Cosie caught a touchdown ball from Roberson.

The BlueCats (0-8) were their own worse enemy in the first half.  They permitted the Rockers to run out to a large lead in the game.  The halftime score was 42-19 in favor of Austin.  The Rockers (5-3) went up by 30 points immediately after the half courtesy of a 50-yard kickoff return from Darrick Wallace.

Then, Evansville came to life.  They scored a touchdown on every series in the second half to make the score as palatable as it was (81-74). In fact, Evansville scored a touchdown on their last 9 possessions.  A break here or there could have made the difference between the long journey home with a 0-8 record or an epic come-from-behind victory on the road.

Hopefully, this newly found attack has set in as the team tries to put together a second half run. The team has dealt with trouble spots one at a time this season.  First, the kicking game needed changes, then the offensive line, and most recently the defensive backfield.  Shawn Mercer’s return this week from personal business could cap off the defensive improvements and give the team what it needs to tally some wins as the season winds to a close in the coming weeks.

Coach Attadero has taken some criticism for all the personnel changes in recent weeks, but the he deserves some credit for not writing the team off for the year after the dismal start.  He has showed that he is untiring in pursuing the right combination of personnel to turn the team around.

The next test for Evasnville will be a rematch between in-state rival Fort Wayne.  The Freedom gave Evansville their first of many heartbreaking defeats.  The ‘Cats opened their season there and suffered a 41-40 loss.  Fort Wayne is winless on the road this season and Evansville is looking forward to flexing their newfound muscles.  It has been reported that the Freedom will also be without quarterback Antoine Taylor.  Taylor is one of the better quarterbacks in the division.

The Freedom game will be a key test for the ‘Cats for seeing if their personnel woes are over.  Coach Attadero knows the significance of a winning now, here in front of the home folks against Fort Wayne. “Losing is contagious.  We have to get the monkey off our back and win this game.” What better Memorial holiday gift could the team give to the city than a win over their in-state and division rival.

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