Racine Raiders Football Club | Racine, Wis. |

Raiders Battle, Snuff Out, Fire

The Raiders defense converge on Columbus Fire quarterback Brandon Hanna.The Racine Raiders (4-0; 2-0 MSFL) offense mustered just three first half points against the Columbus Fire (4-4; 4-2 PAFL) on Saturday night as running back J.R. Taylor rested in the first half. Taylor would take over in the second half, amassing 84 yards and 2 touchdowns on his first 5 carries, leading Racine to a 26-19 win.

Neither offense could get much going in the first half but the Raiders did manage to get deep into Columbus territory late in the first quarter. The drive stalled, however, and the Raiders had to rely on the leg of Sam Nisler for points. Kicking into a fairly stiff breeze, Nisler hardly elevated the ball, getting it maybe 12 feet off the ground, but it went through from 31 yards out, barely clearing the crossbar. The Raiders led 3-0 with a little over two minutes to play in the quarter.

That lone score would hold for the rest of the half and Racine went into halftime with a 3-0 lead. Columbus finished the first half with 94 total yards while Racine had just 91 yards.

Columbus got the ball to start the second half and Mike Tatum took the opening kickoff 75 yards deep into Raiders territory before running out of steam. Columbus couldn’t move the football and had to settle for a 33-yard Alek Shirvanian field goal to tie the score at three.

Taylor entered the game for the first time on the Raiders first drive of the second half. He immediately rumbled 27 yards but the Raiders drive would stall. Hunter Breunig came on and connected on his own 33-yard field goal to give Racine the lead at 6-3

The Raiders, looking to keep the ball away from Tatum, angled a pooch kick over the second line of Fire defenders on the ensuing kickoff. Columbus failed to cover the ball and Tyler Elliott dove on it to give Racine the football at the Fire 31-yard line. Two plays later, Taylor ran 17 yards for his sixth rushing touchdown of the season and gave Racine a 13-3 lead.

Columbus went to the ground on their next drive. Quarterback Brandon Hanna and running back Maurice Douse, who played at Ohio State University, ran for big chunks of yardage. Hanna went in from six yards out after faking a handoff to Douse. Jaarael Bell was flagged and ejected from the game on the play and there was some confusion on the part of the Raiders on the extra point attempt. Derrick Shearer lined up outside on the right and no Raiders defender covered him. C.J. Powell, holding for the kick, took the snap and lobbed a pass to Shearer for the two-point conversion, pulling Columbus to within two points, 13-11.

Alex Wallace returned the ensuing kickoff to the Columbus 33-yard line and Taylor bolted for 33 yards and another touchdown on the next play. That gave Racine a 20-11 lead early in the fourth quarter.

Racine would add to their lead late in the fourth quarter on a one-yard touchdown run by Howard Triplett, his first touchdown of the season. The two-point conversion pass failed, giving Racine a 26-11 lead.

The Fire easily moved down the field on their next possession, aided by a big pass play from Hanna to Tatum. Hanna hit Shearer on a five-yard touchdown pass and then completed a two-point conversion pass to Powell. The Racine lead was just seven points, 26-19.

The Fire tried an onside kick but it was recovered by Racine who promptly started to move the ball the wrong way with two penalties and a sack of Anthony Johnson. On 3rd-and-28 at their own 19-yard line, Johnson found Connor Flannery open over the middle of the field. The pass picked up just eight yards but Racine caught a break as Trevon Chavis pulled Flannery down by his facemask, giving the Raiders a first down.

With a fresh set of downs, offensive coordinator Anthony Wooden went for a big play and Johnson hit Lawerance Peters for an apparent 45-yard touchdown. The score was nullified by an illegal formation penalty and the Raiders would end up having to punt with 42 seconds to play. Breunig came on and booted a high, short punt that was downed at the Columbus 33-yard line with 33 seconds to play.

The Fire went deep into their playbook on the drive as Hanna lateraled the ball to Shearer. Shearer danced around in the backfield looking for an open receiver. He eventually connected with Renault Thomas but Thomas couldn’t get out of bounds as Deveron Davis laid a big hit on him. The Fire hurried to the line of scrimmage to spike the ball. After they stopped the clock, a flag came out and they were called for an illegal formation which resulted in a ten second run-off to end the game.

Racine had 2o first downs in the game on 328 total yards (159 rushing, 169 passing). They held Columbus to 242 total yards. Taylor ended the game with 9 rushes for 85 yards. Triplett added 70 yards on 18 carries.

Johnson finished 15-25 for 170 yards, and he did lose a fumble. D.J. Smith hauled in three catches for 13 yards. Alex Wallace added 2 for 27 and Travis Worthington grabbed 1 pass for 28 yards. Johnson connected with ten different receivers in the game.

Deveron Davis again led the team in tackles with seven. Mike Racall added five tackles and DiQuan McRae had 4-1/2. Adaris Anderson had an interception in the game.

The Raiders final game of the five-game homestand is against the Door County Destroyers at 7 p.m. on July 9, at Historic Horlick Athletic Field. Both teams enter the game at 2-0 in MidStates Football League play.