The Racine Raiders' 2009 season came to a screeching halt Saturday night in St. Paul, Minn., as they fell to the Pioneers 39-17.
The Raiders took a 2-0 lead midway through the first quarter on a holding penalty in the end zone against St. Paul, and the Raiders offense got on the board two minutes into the second quarter on a three-yard touchdown run by J.R. Taylor. The Tim Merchut extra point was good and Racine led 9-0.
But Pioneers running back Brian Holmes cut the lead to 9-7 on a one-yard touchdown plunge with 8:12 to play in the first half. The Raiders would go into halftime with the 9-7 lead.
The Raiders came out in the second half without starting quarterback Ron Ricciardi and returner Charles Owens. Both suffered leg injuries in the first half.
Pioneers cornerback Josh Hollie picked off backup quarterback Brent Ferdinand's first pass of the second half, returning it 47 yards for a touchdown and giving the Pioneers a 14-9 lead. St. Paul would never look back.
Pioneers quarterback Nate Harrington hit wide receiver Joseph Mapson on an 18-yard touchdown pass. The extra point was good and St. Paul led 21-9 with 10:39 to play in the third quarter.
Harrington connected with Mapson again four minutes later on a 57-yard touchdown pass. The extra point was good and the Pioneers led 28-9.
The Raiders couldn't respond until the middle of the fourth quarter when Ferdinand hit wide receiver Justin Miles on a slant pass. Miles took the pass 15 yards into the end zone. Taylor ran in the two-point conversion and Racine cut the Pioneers lead to 28-17.
The Pioneers would add a field goal to increase their lead to 31-17. On the ensuing drive, with under a minute on the clock, the Raiders drove to the Pioneers ten-yard line. Ferdinand tried to hit wide receiver Dorian Palmer in the front corner of the end zone but the jump ball was intercepted by Monte Bailey who returned it 103 yards, a Pioneers record, for a touchdown. The Pioneers converted a two-point opportunity to win the Northern Conference Championship, 39-17.
While the Raiders season is over, the Pioneers will play the Bellingham (Wash.) Bulldogs who were 27-20 winners over the Southern Oregon Renegades.