Firecats Get on Track Against Fire Birds

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Updated: February 3, 2014

The Firecats and Firebirds get Week 3 underway when they face off Friday evening in Albany, N.Y.

Florida, a team that has won at least 10 games for seven straight seasons, has stumbled a bit to start the 2009 season, opening 0-2 (both losses to South Division rival South Georgia). The Firecats haven’t begun a season with two consecutive defeats since 2001, the team’s very first af2 season. That year the squad lost its first three games, finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs.
After a bye in Week 2, the Firecats will look to buck their current trend this week. In Florida’s most recent outing in Week 1, a 56-41 loss at South Georgia, Wildcats rookie QB DARNELL KENNEDY threw for 250 yards and recorded eight total TDs (6 passing, 2 rushing) in his first start with the team. In comparison, Florida QB CHRIS WALLACE went threw for 240 yards with just three scores and one interception.

Despite leading throughout most of the first half, the Firecats fell behind the Wildcats, 26-28, just before halftime and were unable to surpass their foe again. They got within two points midway through the third, but South Georgia exploded for three scores in consecutive possessions to take a 56-33 lead going into the fourth. WR CHRIS MCKINNEY (8-84) led Florida in receiving touchdowns with two. He currently leads the squad in receiving and rushing.

Also helping Florida’s cause this week will be the recent addition of team veterans OL RAYMOND JAMES, LB GEORGE LEWIS and OL GREG WALLS. Lewis had 35.5 tackles and four forced fumbles for the Firecats last season.

Albany has also struggled in the early part of its 2009 campaign. The Firebirds are coming off a humbling, 70-28, road loss last week at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Albany kept things close in the first half but the Pioneers put the game away in the final 30 minutes.

The Firebirds were held scoreless in the second half after scoring 28 in the first half. Rookie QB ADAM BEDNARIK, getting his first start for Albany, had a solid start but a shaky finish under a heavy Pioneers pass rush. Bednarik completed just 18-of-43 passes on the evening for 225 yards with two touchdowns, two interceptions and was sacked six times. He also had 15 carries for 34 yards and two scores. Rookie receiver CHRISTIAN WISE had 10 catches for 116 yards while PATRICK HORNE had 4.0 tackles and an interception on defense.

If Albany wants to keep this game close, the Firebirds will need to keep Bednarik on his feet.