The Racine Raiders (9-2) defeated the Grand Rapids (MI) Thunder (10-5) 30-16 in front of nearly 1,000 fans Saturday night at Horlick Field in Racine. The game was marred by 34 flags and 300 yards in penalties against the teams; 160 against Racine and 140 against the Thunder.
The Raiders got the first points of the game when Mike Morrison, filling in for injured kicker Ben Aguilar, kicked a 33-yard field goal with 11:19 remaining in the first quarter. Six minutes later the Raiders scored a touchdown on a Bryan Jennings Jr. three yard run.
During the second quarter the Thunder controlled the clock on a drive that took up 8:10, however they gained negative yardage and did not score any points, getting five first downs, all on penalties.
The Thunder would cut the lead to 10-7 when Brant Brooks ran the ball 53 yards on a lateral with 3:05 left in the first half.
The Raiders wasted no time taking care of business to start the second half. Jennings scored on a 22-yard run, which was set up by an amazing kick return by Charles Owens, less than a minute into the third quarter.
The Thunder answered with a score of their own when Aaron James completed a 55-yard touchdown pass to Josh Tomazewski just two minutes later. Raiders linebacker James Cichon blocked the extra point attempt, making the score 17-13 in favor of Racine.
The Thunder scored the first points of the fourth quarter on a Mirza Causevic36-yard field goal with 8:12 left to play, narrowing the Raiders lead to a single point.
The Raiders responded with a drive of their own which culminated in a Brett Hall nine-yard touchdown pass to Sam D’Alie. The extra point attempt sailed wide right, giving Racine a 23-16 lead.
Eric Feest, who slipped earlier in the game allowing the Thunder to score a touchdown, made up for his earlier mistake by making a huge interception with 5:20 left in the ball game.
Raiders starting quarterback Brett Hall was ejected from the game with 1:52 left in the fourth quarter after receiving two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in a matter of seconds, which meant that Ron Ricciardi had to enter the game to take his place.
Fullback Adam Chorazy came up huge with a 48-yard run when the Raiders faced second and 55. The Raiders scored another touchdown with 1:19. This time Dante Washington ran the ball 15 yards to the end zone. After the extra point the Raiders had a 14 point lead.
Feest clinched a Raiders victory when he forced a fumble with 1:04 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Hall completed 11 of 22 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown. Jennings led the Raider ground attack gaining 111 yards on 21 carries and scoring a pair of touchdowns. D’Alie led all Raider receivers with 77 yards and a touchdown on five catches.
The defense was outstanding for the Raiders holding the Thunder to 66 yards on the ground and recorded five sacks in the game.
The Raiders clinched the top seed in the Great Lakes Region earlier in the night as the Nashville (TN) Storm defeated the Indianapolis (IN) Tornados, 42-0, in Indianapolis. The Tornados are the defending North American Football League champions. The Raiders are now guaranteed home playoff games through the third round.
The Racine Raiders host the Chicago Falcons next Saturday, Sept. 26, at 7 p.m. at Horlick Field.