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Providence Kernel, September 14, 2008
Steam Roller Fall, 28-19, to Charleston, Stay Winless
Manning Passes for 288 Yards, 4 TDs; Johnson Hurt
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Philadelphia Ink Crier, September 14, 2008
End Zone Eludes Lakers But They Edge Connecticut, 15-13
Tynes Perfect on 5 FG Attempts Including Game-Winner
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Wilmington Snooze-Terminal, September 14, 2008
Cherries Start Fast, Falter, Recover to Drop Albany, 27-20
2nd of 2 Long TD Receptions By Evans is Game-Winner
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Baltimore Sunk, September 14, 2008
3rd Straight Win for Bolts, 24-10, Over Syracuse
Overcome Pair of Muffed Punts
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Harrisburg Pay and Rot Ooze, September 14, 2008
Peterson, Washington Swamp Hershey Bars, 41-17
Rookie Rushes for 219 Yards, 3 Touchdowns
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Richmond Timed Distant, September 15, 2008
Gonzalez, New York Subdue Rebels, 14-6
12 Catches for Star TE; McNabb Picked Off 3 Times
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Wilmington Snooze-Terminal, September 14, 2008

Rip Snorter

Quiet Evans Blossoming into a Star

Having coughed up the lead after being ahead from the start, the Cherries needed points to break a 20‑20 deadlock. They had just gambled on 4th and 2 from their own 47: Heath Miller had delivered a crushing block to spring LaDainian Tomlinson for a 9-yard gain. The clock was ticking under six minutes, and now, on 2nd and 7 from the Albany 41, they needed to cash in.

So they called Lee Evans’ number, something they’ve been doing with increasing frequency.

And the fourth-year wide receiver delivered.

The Albany defense keyed on Tomlinson, expecting the EFL-leading rusher to dent the line yet again. Evans cut toward the sideline and found himself some distance from defender Ellis Hobbs. Rivers hit Evans with a laser just inside the 30. Evans eluded Hobbs, cut to the inside away from Charles Woodson, broke back to the outside, and easily outran Dwight Smith to the end zone.

The score, the fourth touchdown reception of 24 or more yards by Evans in the last two games, quieted the Albany crowd and put the Cherries ahead 27‑20. They would survive two subsequent forays by the Racers into Delaware territory to earn their fifth straight win.

Earlier, Evans had found an alley through the Racers’ nickel defense and hauled in a pretty, deep spiral from Rivers for a 59-yard score. That gave the Cherries a 17‑0 lead in the second quarter before Albany had gotten as much as a first down.

Playing a position where flamboyancy is the norm, Evans is a quiet exception. When he scores a touchdown, there aren’t displays; he just flips the ball to the official.

He lets his numbers speak for him:

Lee Evans’ Career Stats
YearRec.Yds.Avg.TD
20055477814.43
20065767011.83
20075682214.711
20082139618.95

And those numbers show Evans is a model of consistency. Not only that, there has been a consistent increase in his scoring output. Last season his 11 touchdown receptions led the entire EFL.

With the arrival in the off-season of fellow Wisconsin Badger Chris Chambers to play on the opposite side, Evans has seen his playing time diminish this season. He is sharing time with Isaac Bruce. It hasn’t affected Evans’ production, though. If anything, he’s thriving. One week short of the halfway point of the regular season, Evans is tied — with Dwayne Bowe of the Lakers and Derrick Mason of the Hershey Bars — for the league lead in touchdown catches with 5.

Evans said he follows the other wide receivers in the league, paying particular attention to “guys who put up big numbers” such as Torry Holt of Providence, Donald Driver of Charleston, and Steve Smith of Richmond. Does he think of himself as one of those guys? “At times I do,” he said. "But I haven't really done it consistently throughout the season."

The numbers would disagree — and so do I. But if Evans is correct in his self-assessment, let now be the time he improves, for the injury bug has bitten the Cherries in a way it hasn’t since the onset of the Jon Brams era in 2004. Guard Jason Brown missed the Albany game, and he is expected to miss the Richmond game as well. Then last night offensive tackle Jordan Gross suffered a bad high ankle sprain and will miss at least a few games.

The combined effect was immediately noticeable as Tomlinson was held under four yards per carry for the first time this season. As the Cherries weather this rash of injuries, they may be forced to increasingly rely on their aerial attack — and touchdown-maker Lee Evans.

The injury bug has afflicted the Cherries’ defense too, by the way. Cornerback Fakhir Brown, who had been off to a terrific start this season, was injured against Hershey and missed last night’s game. He may or may not be back for the Richmond game. Hank Poteat did a nice job filling in for Brown. With frequent double-team help from Brian Dawkins, Terrell Suggs, and Na'il Diggs, Poteat held Albany’s fleet Santonio Holmes to 27 yards on 3 receptions, plus he chipped in 6 tackles.