Raiders can pull into tie for first place with win over defending champions
The Richmond Raiders (4-2) will attempt to claim a share of first place against the team that denied them last year’s championship, the Albany Panthers (3-2), on Saturday night at 7:00 at the Richmond Coliseum. It’s the teams’ first meeting since the title tilt in Albany last June. Both squads will be battling to keep pace in the loss column with the first place Alabama Hammers. The last regular season meeting came down to a T.C. Stevens field goal at the final horn, and the matchup Saturday on Healthy Living Night presented by Health Diagnostic Laboratory, Inc. promises to be just as exciting.
Last week the Raiders came back from a 21 point deficit to defeat the Lehigh Valley SteelHawks, 66-64. After giving up a team record 51 points in the first half, the Raiders’ defense stifled the SteelHawks in half number two. Lehigh Valley managed just one touchdown and 50 passing yards, and committed two turnovers – both interceptions by RoShawn Marshall, who was named PIFL Defensive Player of the Week. Meanwhile, the Raiders’ offense used a vertical passing game to score quickly and frequently. Warren Smith threw for 327 yards and 8 touchdowns, setting franchise records in both categories. Jason Lovett and Hakeem Moore each had over 130 receiving yards. Lovett scored on five of his six receptions.
Marshall’s two interceptions came at critical junctures in the fourth quarter. The first came after the SteelHawks stopped the Raiders on fourth and goal from the one yard line, which left Richmond still trailing by five. He stepped in front of the receiver on a deep pass and returned it 34 yards to the Lehigh Valley 10, setting up the eventual game winning touchdown by Herb Jones on the next play. Lehigh Valley drove the ball downfield, eventually getting to the Raiders’ 15 with less than a minute to go. But on third and long, Marshall made a great break on Adam Bednarik’s pass to clinch the win.
The Panthers have lost two straight games but have had the last two weeks off to prepare for their third straight road game. In their last outing they fell to the first place Alabama Hammers, 51-38. Albany scored touchdowns on their first three possessions and recovered a fumble on the second half kickoff, leading to another TD and a 10 point lead. But a late third quarter interception and a fumble to start the fourth quarter led to two straight touchdowns by Alabama and gave the Hammers a 12 point lead. The Panthers got the ball with a minute left needing a
score and an onside kick to have any hope, but couldn’t overcome their own mistakes, as an interception (negated by penalty), a penalty, and a sack sealed their fate.
The Raiders, Panthers, and Hammers (5-2) each have two losses and occupy the top three spots in the PIFL standings. The Hammers are idle this week, meaning this game’s winner will have a leg up on the rest of the league for a home playoff game. The Raiders would claim a share of first place with a win and be at least one full game ahead of the third place team.
Saturday’s matchup will be on Healthy Living Night, presented by Health Diagnostic Laboratory, Inc. The Raiders and HDL will promote the importance of staying active and staying healthy. HDL will provide free giveaways during the game. Before the game, the Raiders will attempt to set the indoor football record for most flags on the field, when over 10 color guards participate in the flag presentation and national anthem ceremony! Scholar-athletes from Richmond Public Schools will be honored at halftime.
Tickets start as low as $7, and are available on the Raiders’ website, www.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.