Racine Raiders Football Club | Racine, Wis. |

Raiders advance to MSFL championship game

Racine Raiders swarming defense.It wasn’t a clean performance, but the Racine Raiders got by the Door County Destroyers, 34-27 to advance to the MidStates Football League (MSFL) championship game on September 12. They will play the Lincoln-Way Patriots, who beat the Raiders 36-28 in Tinley Park, Ill., on July 25.

On a cool, wet night, neither team managed to get anything going in the first quarter, leading to the game being scoreless after the first quarter of play.

J.R. Taylor, who arrived to the game late because he was coaching his son’s football team, got the Raiders on the board first on a 10-yard scamper with 12:45 to play in the first half. The 12 play, 91 yard drive was kept alive by a five yard run by Aaron Hilliard out of the punt formation. The extra point attempt was no good as the snap slipped through the hands of Sam D’Alie, making the Racine lead 6-0.

The Raiders extended their lead to 14-0 with 5:41 to play in the first half. Craig McClelland found Myles Spiegel for a 42 yard touchdown to cap an 11 play, 77 yard drive that took 3:42 off the clock. McClelland hit D’Alie for the two-point conversion.

Momentum seemed to be on Racine’s side but that would change in the blink of an eye. With 3:37 left to play, Alex Whitney connected with Matt Gajewski for an 80-yard touchdown. The Eric Natwick kick was good and the Racine lead was down to 7 points.

D.J. Smith on a kick return.Door County tied the game on Racine’s ensuing possession. McClelland’s pass intended for Tyler Elliott was knocked in the air by Elliott, right to Whit McAfee who returned it 19 yards for the score. Natwick’s extra point tied the game at 14 with 2:27 to play in the half and it would remain that way into halftime.

Racine struck first in the second half as well. McClelland again connected with Spiegel, this time on a 41 yard pass, on a drive that went 87 yards on 7 plays and took 4:36 off the clock. The extra point was good and Racine lead 21-14 with 6:46 to play in the third quarter.

The action would pick up again in the fourth quarter. Door County pulled to within one as Whitney connected with Gajewski on a 31 yard touchdown pass. Natwick’s extra point was blocked by Jaran Rutledge, allowing Racine to maintain a one point lead just seconds into the fourth quarter.

The Raiders extended the lead to 7 points on a 50 yard touchdown run by Taylor with 4:47 to play in the game. Following an offsides penalty by Door County, the Raiders went for a two-point conversion attempt but McClelland came up short on his rush around right tackle. The Racine lead was 27-20.

The defense, held without a turnover to this point in the game, put the game away. Jaarael Bell, who had just been flagged for a questionable pass interference penalty that got Door County out of the shadows of their own end zone, picked off Whitney and returned it 36 yards to put Racine up 34-20 with 3:24 to play.

Door County kept fighting back. Two minutes later, Whitney and T.J. Hulbert combined on a 41 yard touchdown pitch-and-catch to capitalize on a 8 play, 87 yard drive, and pulled the Destroyers to within a touchdown.

Door County’s onside kick attempt failed but the Raiders couldn’t run out the clock. They gave the ball back to Door County with under 30 seconds to play. Nate Heard ended any hope for the Destroyers on a diving interception with seconds left.

Along with the mist and fog that hung around Historic Horlick Athletic Field, fans had to sit through 27 accepted infractions between the two teams. In the two games between Door County and Racine, there have been 52 penalties accepted, more than 25% of the season total for the Raiders and their opponents over 14 games.

J.R. Taylor runs through a big hole.Taylor paced the Raiders with 96 yards on the ground. McClelland threw for 253 yards and three interceptions, to go with his two touchdowns. Steve Morris and Spiegel each had over 100 yards on 5 catches.

The Raiders will play in their third MSFL championship game in the past four years, having won the previous two. Racine looks to become the first repeat MSFL champions since the Roscoe Rush in 2010 and 2011.

The game will be played on Saturday, September 12, at 7 p.m. at SportScore 2 (8800 East Riverside Boulevard) in Loves Park, Ill. No fan bus is planned at this time. The game will be carried live on Your Radio Friend, AM 1400 WRJN, http://www.wrjn.com, and the TuneIn app on your mobile devices (search WRJN), with Don Wadewitz and Tom Christensen. The pregame show starts at 6:40 p.m.

2 Comments

  1. Tom Goetz

    September 7, 2015 at 9:26 pm

    Thanks for another entertaining season. I have hoped for a bus to away games for many years. I have been a volunteer and season ticket holder since day one.1953, Unfortunately there is a family party on the 12th. Will listen to WRJN. Hope to get to the next game. Tom

    • admin

      September 7, 2015 at 9:31 pm

      Sorry you can’t be at the game, Tom. 🙁 I’m sure Don, Tom, Paul, and Evan will entertain you on WRJN on Saturday night! Thanks for being there for the team from the get-go.