Richmond Raiders’ Playoff Fate to be Determined Saturday

A win in the regular season finale would put the team in the postseason for the second straight year

(June 12, 2013) Following a two game road losing streak, the mantra for Saturday night’s regular season finale is simple: Win and Get In. If the Raiders (6-5) defeat the Louisiana Swashbucklers (5-5), they will qualify for the 2013 PIFL playoffs as either the second or third seed. Last week the Raiders fell to the first place Alabama Hammers in their first game that didn’t require overtime since May 18. That was when they faced the Swashbucklers for the first time this year, in a contest that began a streak of three straight overtime games. The Swashbucklers prevailed in double OT, and the rematch, on Saturday night at 7:00 at the Richmond Coliseum, will take place on Be Cool, Stay Safe Night presented by FOX Richmond.

The Raiders hung tough with the Hammers in Huntsville last week, but were doomed by turnovers and a couple of big plays. The Hammers got two returns for touchdowns, including a 47 yard fumble return and a 58 yard field goal return, which sparked them to a 24 point lead. The Raiders fought back and got to within nine points with 6:30 remaining, but the Hammers took over five minutes off the clock on a drive that eventually resulted in a touchdown, increasing their lead to a two possession margin. Immediately thereafter, Warren Smith was hit and coughed up the football for the Raiders’ fourth turnover of the game.

Hakeem Moore and Herb Jones each had their three game streaks of at least 100 receiving yards broken, though Jones did score a touchdown. Only four of Smith’s 26 passes hit the turf, but two ended up in the arms of a Hammer. The Raiders’ defense got four stops and held Hammer QB Russell Hill to a season-low 45% completion rate, but Alabama’s defense countered with four sacks and six tackles for a loss.

In Lake Charles, La., in the first meeting this year with the Swashbucklers, the Raiders tied the game with a touchdown and two point conversion with 25 seconds remaining to force overtime, but couldn’t convert a two pointer in the decisive second overtime period. Each team gets one possession per overtime, similar to NCAA rules, but two point conversions become mandatory after the first overtime. After the Raiders’ second OT touchdown, Antwun Williams’ wide receiver pass was intercepted. The Swashbucklers got a Tenise Uelese eight yard touchdown run and a Chris Mitchell rush on the conversion to claim victory.

The Raiders scored touchdowns on their first six possessions of the game, but fumbled and turned the ball over on downs on consecutive fourth quarter drives. That enabled the ‘Bucs to turn a 13 point deficit into an eight point lead, setting the stage for Warren Smith’s one yard touchdown run in the final minute. Smith set team records with 32 completions and 365 yards, and Herb Jones caught a career high five touchdowns and had his third 100 yard game of the season.

Louisiana trounced the Knoxville Nighthawks last week, 58-20. The ‘Bucs trailed 10-3 in the second quarter, but got takeaways on consecutive Nighthawk drives to build a 17-10 lead. A blocked field goal led to a third straight score, and the Swashbucklers extended their lead to 18 points by halftime. Two second half interceptions, combined with a missed field goal and a turnover on downs, doomed Knoxville as the Louisiana offense continued to rack up yards and points. Jordan Rideaux and Ronald Davis each had over 100 yards receiving and Chris Mitchell threw for seven touchdowns. The Swashbucklers had four takeaways and limited the Nighthawks to just one of 10 on third down conversions.

The Swashbucklers have historically been much more dedicated to running the football than most indoor teams, and this year is no different. They are the league’s run-heaviest team, though the Raiders lead the PIFL in rushing touchdowns. Louisiana boasts the league’s number one rush defense, but they gave up a season high 5.7 yards per rush to the Raiders in the first meeting.

Saturday’s matchup will be on Be Cool, Stay Safe Night presented by FOX Richmond. They will provide giveaways throughout the night, and will have a distracted driving simulator on the concourse. Everyone in attendance will get a free ticket to Colonial Downs for Sunday, where Risky will defend his title in the mascot race. At halftime, Make-A-Wish Greater Virginia will celebrate the granting of their 4,000th wish with support from the Richmond Coliseum and SMG.

Tickets start as low as $7, and are available on the Raiders’ website, RichmondRaidersProFootball.com, or by calling 1-855-GO-RAIDERS or 804-780-0430. Additionally, fans can contact the Richmond Coliseum box office or visit ticketmaster.com.