Holiday weekend game to figure prominently in both teams’ playoff hopes
Despite last week’s double-overtime loss to the Louisiana Swashbucklers, the Richmond Raiders (5-3) still control their own destiny for a home playoff game as they prepare to host the Columbus Lions (3-5) on Saturday night, April 25, 2013 at 7:00pm at the Richmond Coliseum. The Lions bested the Raiders earlier this season in Columbus, so Richmond will be out for revenge on Bike and Play in RVA Night.
Last week 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.
In the teams’ first meeting this year, the Lions beat the Raiders 48-42, thanks to a 21-0 fourth quarter run that erased a 15 point deficit. The Raiders drove to the Columbus 8 yard line in the final seconds, but a potential tying touchdown pass went off Herb Jones’ hands on the last play. The Raiders built their lead thanks to two Lion turnovers but missed a field goal and had a failed fourth down conversion down the stretch.
The Lions have not won since that game against the Raiders in Columbus on April 20. Last week, they fell to the Alabama Hammers, 70-43, for their third straight loss. Two Lion fumbles in the third quarter paved the way for Alabama to stretch their lead to 20 points. Lee Chapple became the fourth quarterback to start a game for Columbus this year, and threw for five touchdowns and two interceptions.
Turnovers could weigh heavily in the decision Saturday night. Columbus’ defense is second in the league with 14 pickoffs, led by Anthony Shutt, who leads the PIFL with seven interceptions. However, Lions quarterbacks have thrown a league-high 17 interceptions. If the Raiders can hold on to the ball, they have a chance to put some points on the board. The Raiders are second in total offense and third in scoring, while the Lions trail the league in total defense and scoring defense.
The Raiders are one game behind the first place Alabama Hammers and one game ahead of third place Lehigh Valley – and they own the tiebreaker with the SteelHawks – so by winning out, the Raiders would be assured of no worse than the second seed in the playoffs. Meanwhile, Columbus finds itself in sixth place, a full game out of the final playoff spot. The Lions need to leapfrog two teams to become eligible for the postseason, making this game crucial to their playoff aspirations.
Saturday’s matchup will be on Bike and Play in RVA Night. Bike racks will be available for anyone who rides to the game, and any child 14 and under who brings their bike helmet for a free inspection will also receive a free ticket to the game. Lower level tickets will be available for $10 by presenting your Martin’s card – a savings of $3! Some lucky fans will participate in a halftime contest to win a brand new Buick Verano courtesy of Haley Buick GMC. And the Raiders will give away two four-packs of tickets to WWE Monday Night Raw on June 10. Get there early – free thundersticks courtesy of Martin’s will be given to kids 14 and under while supplies last.
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.