Photo Courtesy of Briane Amodeo Chicago Blitz/BriAmo Photography
Blitz Fall in final Seconds to River City 37-31
Villa Park IL-The Chicago Blitz (4-3) dropped a heartbreaker to the River City Raiders (7-1) by a final score of 37-31 at the Odeum Sports and Expo Center. For the second time this season the Blitz fell to the Raiders despite having a fourteen point lead in each of the games. “We let another one slip away to these guys, it is getting to be a bad habit getting up 14 and losing the game in the second half” recalled a disappointed Chicago Blitz head coach Mike Oliver. The Blitz got out to a great start scoring on the first pass of the game and rolled to a 24-10 halftime lead. Unfortunately the Blitz could not maintain their momentum in the second half being outscored 27-7 in the second half. When asked what changed in the second half Blitz coach Mike Oliver had this to say “There are some darn good coaches in this league and they made a good adjustment they started bringing pressure up the middle and spying the QB.”
Offensively it was an up and down game for the Blitz putting twenty four points on the board in the first half and only managing seven points in the second half. Quarterback Andre Locke had a very strong first half with three touchdown throws, two of which to Brian “Boobie” Miles and one to returning Blitz wide receiver David Brown. Locke’s lone touchdown pass in the second half was to Bryant “Speedy” Pascascio. “We had too many penalties, you can’t have those kind of mistakes when you have a young quarterback, you have to build a drive and we didn’t do that” shared Blitz head coach Mike Oliver on the difference for the offense between the first and second half. When asked for his thoughts on the game Blitz running back Keenan Miller replied “This was very similar to the first time we played these guys, we were high energy, we were up 14 points at the half and almost had the knockout punch.” Chicago’s offensive line had trouble with the Raiders pass rush giving up more pressure and sacks of the quarterback than usual. “We have to complete our drives and we have got to keep our energy up” was the response of Miller when asked what needs to change for the Chicago offense.
The Blitz defense had a strong outing despite the loss. A few injuries in the second half of the game really affected the defenses effectiveness allowing the Raiders to claw back into the game and ultimately take the victory. An obviously frustrated Blitz linebacker Lorenzo Hood had this to say about the loss “We followed the fundamentals of what we talked about all week and we get on the field and didn’t do that tonight especially in crucial situations.” Much like the offense Chicago’s defense had a very strong first half only allowing one touchdown and one field goal. The Blitz defense continued forcing turnovers with two total interceptions in the defeat. Chicago’s defensive line had another strong game getting good pressure on the Raiders QB throughout. Lorenzo Hood had a thought on the game that seemed to echo throughout the Blitz locker room with both players and coaches saying “It’s disappointing to get this far and work this hard against a team we were beating twice.”
Chicago’s special teams had a very difficult outing in Saturday night’s loss. River City came into the game with a very dangerous return man that presented the Blitz with many problems in the first matchup. He was very dangerous once again giving the Blitz kick coverage team fits all night long and even returning a missed field goal for a touchdown late in the game. The Blitz return team did a good job of giving Chicago’s offense good starting field position for much of the game. Kicker Igor Materic had an up and down night going 4-4 on extra point attempts and only 1 for 4 on field goal attempts.
Disappointing does not even begin to describe the feeling around the team with this loss. Just when the Blitz seemingly had this game in hand River City dug deep and found a way to win. This loss was almost a mirror image of the team’s loss in River City back in late April. Coming into this game it seemed like a loss would knock the Blitz out of playoff contention in the AIF. However shortly after the game was over it was discovered there was an unfortunate situation with the Philadelphia Yellow Jackets making them ineligible for the playoffs and thus giving the Blitz new life. “We are still in the playoffs there is a situation with philly and as a result we are still in the playoffs and we have to beat West Michigan in two weeks” replied Blitz coach Mike Oliver when asked about the playoffs. So hold on to your seats Blitz fans as this could be a wild ride in the coming weeks and could lead to something very special. Should the Blitz beat West Michigan at home in two weeks the likely first round matchup would be against River City. And we all know what they say about beating a team three times in one season, but the Blitz need to get the win at home in two weeks first. If the attitude and feeling surrounding the team when news of this chance spread is any indication, the Blitz should put on quite the show in their final regular season game.
The Blitz return home to the Odeum Expo and Sports Center on May 28 for a 7PM kickoff versus the West Michigan Ironmen