BlueCats win, BlueCats win!
06/18/03 Jeff Gregory
The evening had a different feel. Roberts stadium was dimly lit. The BlueCats were introduced with spotlights and the roar of half a dozen Harley-Davidsons that were nicely clad with BlueCat cheerleaders. The crescendo came when Eddie “Big Cat” Cronin burst on the field spraying liquid high in the air from his head like the steam from a thundering locomotive. When the smoke cleared, Evansville had won their first game in franchise history over the Oklahoma Crude 40-23.
THE SCOREBOARD AT ROBERTS STADIUM DISPLAYS THE BLUECATS’ FIRST VICTORY
Coach Avery Atadero was relieved with the “W”, “It was good to get the monkey off our backs and get a victory.” Coach Atadero gives the Evansville crowd a lot of credit. “The fans have been second to none – the way 3000 came out to support an 0-12 team.”
The BlueCats won nearly every statistical category. It was not the first time that the ‘Cats had outplayed their opponents, but it was the first time they had anything to show for it. Dale Jennings came up big replacing both RB Mike Cosie and the recently dismissed Levron Williams at WR. He scored three rushing touchdown and one 44 yard catch-and-run TD backbreaker in the fourth quarter. He also added 70 yards receiving to his game night achievements.
Quarterback Akili Roberson had a nice 160 yard passing performance on 12 of 27 completions. He had only one interception – one that the fans will readily forgive. That interception produced the game’s biggest, and most exciting play. Roberson hooked up with WR Deon Jordan via the Crude’s Monte Spiller for 23-yard score. This came about from what seemed to be a crucial mistake. Roberson misfired and the ball landed in the hands of Spiller on the first play of the second quarter. In his effort to return the ball, Spiller got a little too careless with the football. The temptation was too much for Jordan as he bypassed his option to tackle and chose instead to pickpocket Spiller. The result was a touchdown for the home team as Jordan scampered the remaining 14 yards to the end zone, ball in hand.
CHAD COLE (left) ATTEMPTS A FIELDGOAL
The BlueCat kicking position is finally solidified. Kicker Chad Cole has demonstrated his ability to do the job on both PAT’s and fieldgoals. He nailed two fieldgoals – one from an impressive 45 yards. He was also four for five in PAT attempts. Another aspect of the kicking game slowed Evansville as three kicks, two fieldgoals and one PAT attempt were blocked.
As much as anyone, credit for the ‘Cat’s first victory should be given to Eddie Cronin. He never let the team or the fans fade away. Big Cat was always psyching up his teammates and the fans even when the team slid into a stale offensive stretch in the third quarter. “(He) really gets us pumped up,” explained DL Darnell Rentie, “He just says things that gets that chill running through you.”
He walked the walk as well by helping extinguish the Crude’s hope by stuffing RB Travis Booker for a five yard loss in the fourth quarter. Oklahoma’s possession stalled three plays later on a missed fourth and fifteen fieldgoal attempt.
EDDIE “BIG CAT” CRONIN (right) CELEBRATES AFTER A KEY STOP (Photo courtesy Mark McCoy, EV BlueCats)
The BlueCats face their final opponent of the 2003 campaign in Houma, Louisiana Saturday as the will take on the Bayou Bucks. The Bucks have made the playoffs this year so an Evansville victory will reveal that the program is ready to turn around. It will be a remarkable feat, however; Houma is undefeated at home. The game is important to the ‘Cats to build momentum as they look forward to a successful 2004 season.
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