Raiders Look for Split of Back-to-Back Meetings
After playing just one game in the last three weeks, the Richmond Raiders will start a two game home stand Saturday night. The first game in a stretch of seven games in seven weeks will be against the Trenton Freedom in the teams’ third meeting of the season. The game will be on Teacher Appreciation Night sponsored by Crown Richmond BMW. Teachers can get tickets for just $5, and additional ticket specials are available to all fans for this crucial contest as the Raiders try to gain ground in the National Conference standings. Kickoff is at 7:00 pm May 17 at the Richmond Coliseum.
This will be the Raiders’ second straight game facing the Freedom. Before last week’s bye, the Freedom completed a 17-point comeback in the final two minutes to edge the Raiders, 33-32 in Trenton. On the strength of three interceptions, the Raiders erased an early 10-0 deficit and led 32-16 after three periods. But four lost fumbles, including two in the fourth quarter, proved too much to overcome. Trenton scored two late touchdowns and recovered an onside kick to set up the game winning field goal with seven seconds left. Christian Lacey recorded three sacks for the Raiders, Kenny Jones rushed for two touchdowns, and Phil Konopka passed for two scores and showed clear improvement from his first start the previous game.
The Freedom (4-2) continued their winning ways at home last week with a 52-39 victory over the Harrisburg Stampede. The teams traded touchdowns throughout the first half, with the only defensive stop coming by the Stampede when they blocked a field goal and returned it for a TD. A Trenton field goal as time expired brought the Freedom to within five, 29-24, at halftime. The Freedom defense turned things around in the second half, forcing three straight field goal attempts and recovering a fumble. The takeaway led to Warren Smith’s sixth touchdown of the game (4 passing, 2 rushing) and a 14 point Trenton lead. The Stampede finally got back in the end zone with 28 seconds left, but couldn’t recover the onside kick and Trenton tacked on a late touchdown.
The Freedom have won the first two matchups, both in Trenton where they are 4-0. Both teams have had stout defenses, separated by less than two points in scoring defense and ranking 1-2 in sacks. Warren Smith has given Trenton stability at QB, throwing for 23 touchdowns against seven interceptions, and adding six rushing TDs. Meanwhile, Phil Konopka is the Raiders’ third starting quarterback of the season, though his 20-for-28, 232 yard game two weeks ago is the best performance by any of them. Smith leads the league in pass efficiency, and his favorite target Antoine Rivera is tops in receptions. However, Smith had season highs in interceptions (3) and sacks (5) last time he faced the Raiders’ defense.
Saturday’s matchup will be Teacher Appreciation Night, and all K-12 teachers, administrators, and staff may purchase tickets for just $5 with their school ID. The game is sponsored by Crown Richmond BMW. Tickets are also available in a buy 3, get 1 free package, as well as a family 4-pack which includes tickets, hot dogs, popcorn, and soft drinks all for one low price. Additionally, every full price lower level ticket bought in advance comes with a $5 merchandise or concession coupon. Doors open at 5:30, so get to the Coliseum early for all the fun!
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.