Racine Raiders Football Club | Racine, Wis. |

Raiders Fall Foot Short in MSFL Opener

The Racine Raiders (1-2 overall; 0-1 MSFL) came up a foot short from possible victory in their MidStates Football League season opener against the Chi City Ducks (2-0; 1-0) on Saturday night on the south side of Chicago. A second half rally fell short, about a foot short to be exact, on a two-point conversion run attempt by running back Howard Triplett as the Raiders lost 21-20.

Mitchell FarrThe game got off to a somber start as the Raiders went for it on fourth-and-three on the opening drive of the game on their own end of the field. Starting quarterback Mitchell Farr dropped back, looking to pass, but was flushed out of the pocket. He cut to his right and found a small lane to run. The lane closed quickly and Farr was hit hard, including a helmet-to-helmet hit, that caused him to fumble the ball. Farr laid motionless on the turf as training staff attended to him while awaiting emergency medical assistance. He would be released from the hospital early in the morning on Sunday.

The Ducks recovered the fumble and would capitalize on the turnover. The Raiders defense forced a fourth-and-eight for Chi City at the Raiders 36 yard line. The Ducks chose to go for it and converted on a nine-yard pass from Andre Locke to Denzel Whitaker. Two plays later, Locke threaded a pass through the hands of Raiders defender Jaarael Bell to Brian Miles from 26 yards out to give Chi City a 7-0 lead with 9:50 to play in the first quarter.

With R.J. Mattucci at the helm, the Raiders went on a nine-play drive on the ensuing possession and got all the way down to the Ducks 10-yard line. Mattucci was sacked by Aaron Sanders, setting up a 35-yard field goal attempt by Hunter Breunig. The attempt was blocked and Chi City recovered the ball at their own four-yard line.

On the ensuing drive, Locke connected with Miles on pass plays of 34 and 50 yards, setting Chi City up at the Raiders one-yard line. Following a timeout, Locke hooked up with Jonathan Henderson on a one-yard touchdown pass to give the Ducks a 14-0 heading into the second quarter.

Both teams would mount drives deep onto the offensive side of the field in the second quarter but were unable to convert. The Raiders got a 19-yard sack by J.D. Hardy that forced the Ducks to attempt a 37-yard field goal that fell well short with 4:26 to play in the half. The Raiders got down to the Ducks 21-yard line on a drive but Mattucci was sacked and fumbled, turning the ball back to Chi City with just 21 seconds to play in the half.

The Raiders looked like a different team in the second half. They forced a three-and-out on the Ducks first second half drive and started their initial drive at the Chi City 48-yard line. Mattucci went for a home run pass to Brandon Smith, but it was under-thrown and picked off by Chris Durr.

Brandon Smith Tipped Touchdown CatchThe defense again held Chi City to a three-and-out, giving the ball to the offense at the Ducks 45-yard line. This time the offense would capitalize. Mattucci tossed the ball in the endzone for Smith. Durr tipped the ball several times, knocking it right to Smith who was waiting for it and made the catch for the first passing touchdown of the season for the Raiders. Breunig added the extra point to pull Racine to within 14-7 with 8:35 to play in the third quarter.

The Raiders defense would again hold the Ducks deep in their own territory and give the ball to the offense at midfield. The Raiders gave the ball right back following a run for no gain, an incomplete pass, and a sack.

The Ducks would get in a rhythm this time, driving 85 yards on 10 plays and culminating in a 14-yard touchdown pass from Locke to Andrei Ward. The Ducks led 21-7 with 12:15 to play in the game.

There was no quit in the Raiders. Mattucci led the Raiders on a 12-play, 57 yard drive hitting Smith for a touchdown on 4th-and-goal from the 9-yard line. The Breunig extra point pulled Racine to back within seven points with five minutes to play.

The Raiders, with all three timeouts remaining, chose to kick the ball deep. The Ducks ground game had struggled all game but had a little life on the last drive, picking up runs of 11 and 8 yards. However, the Ducks, just needing to run out the clock and getting the Raiders to use their timeouts, chose to pass the ball three times on the drive and all of the attempts landed incomplete. 

Howard Triplett can't punch it in on a two-point conversion run attempt.The Ducks punted to the Raiders, who still had a timeout and the two-minute warning left. Austin Tenner took the punt and returned it down the Ducks sideline for 57 yards to the Chi City 25-yard line. Tight end Chris Hicks would make a sensational catch at the goal line for Racine and Triplett would punch it in from a yard out to pull Racine within one point.

The Raiders chose to go for the two-point conversion and a possible win with under a minute left in the game. The move backfired as Triplett was stopped about a foot short of the goal line. 

Trailing, 21-20, Racine attempted an onside kick but it was recovered by Chi City. Locke took a knee and the Ducks ran out the clock for the win.

The Raiders have their home opener on Saturday, June 9, against the Leyden Lions. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. It’s Insinkerator Family Night and Insinkerator president Chad Severson will be the honorary captain. The Smith-Nelson Project will perform near the concessions stand beginning when the gates open at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are available at ten area ticket outlets.