Here in Raiderland it is getting to feel a little bit like the movie, Groundhog Day. It seems that every time the Raiders and the Indians square off, there is one or two strange things that seem to happen in the game and they are never seem to be good things for Cal-Mum. The Gainesville mojo was once again in play on Friday night.
In a game where big hits were at a premium, the Raiders appeared to have the upper hand as they entered the 4th quarter of the contest holding a 12 to 3 lead. The Raiders had the ball and were looking to follow up their previous touchdown drive with an insurance score. Unfortunately the early 4th quarter drive was derailed by an offensive holding penalty. The ensuing punt was pressured and the short kick gave Letchworth excellent field position at the Raiders’ 44-yard line. On the first play of the drive, Letchworth’s quarterback Ryan Owens quickly got his team to the line of scrimmage, with ta hree wide-out formation to his right side. On the snap, Owens lofted a long pass to well-covered Cliff Bacon, who made the difficult reception and then fought his way into the end zone, quickly cutting the Raiders’ lead to 12 to 10.
The Raider still held the lead but the game’s momentum really turned against Cal-Mum on the next offensive series. With the ball on their 29-yard line, in an attempt to maintain possession, Cal-Mum gambled and failed when they came up short on a 4th down and less than one-yard situation. The Raider defense responded to this adversity and did their job, stopping the Letchworth drive and forcing the Indians into trying a long 45-yard field goal. Owens field goal attempt would sail to the right of the goal posts but the Raiders were guilty of running into the kicker. The killer 15-yard penalty was to be enhanced with a second penalty, for unsportsmanlike behavior, which gave the Indians possession at the Raiders’ 6-yard line. Ryan Owens would carry the ball into the end zone to cap off the drive, giving Letchworth a 16 to 12 lead with 5:55 remaining in the contest.
The Raiders showed some real character as they refused to fold. With 2:04 remaining in the game, the Raiders started a last-ditch drive from their own 20-yard line. A 14-yard pass play from quarterback Matt Hartford to Kyle Kline was followed quickly on the next play with an 8-yard reception by Christian Hallett. Matt Hartford would then find Madison Shur open on the Letchworth sideline for a 17-yard completion, down to the Letchworth 41-yard line. Hartford would call his own number on the next play, scampering 19-yards, to the Letchworth 22-yard line. The next two plays, consecutive pass completions to Christian Hallett and Madison Suhr gave the Raiders a 1st down at the Indian’s 11-yard line, with 38 seconds left on the game clock. A 1st down run was stuffed at the line of scrimmage, forcing the Raiders to quickly spike the ball, on second down, to stop the clock. The Raiders’ hope for their own comeback victory disappeared when the final two pass plays fell incomplete. With the change of possession, Letchworth took a knee to finish off the final 6-second of the game and secure the victory.
Offensively, the Raiders were led in the rushing by Jon Cappotelli with 89-yards in 19 carries. Madison Suhr added 60-yards in 9 carries and one touchdown. Quarterback, Matt Hartford completed 8 of his 16 passes, for 63-yards passing. Hartford also hooked up with Christian Hallett for four pass completions including one for the Raider’s second TD. Jon Cappotelli and Solomon Gominiak shared the tackle lead on defense with eight tackles apiece.
On the Indians’ side of the ball, Austin Hedges with 16 carries and Ryan Owens with nine carries each accounted for 43-yards rushing. Owens had the lone Indian rushing TD to go with a 1st half field goal. Ryan Owens also accounted for 110 yards passing with a 7 for 12 passing night. Cliff Bacon had two receptions, one being the big 44-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Owens. Christian Coniglio and Rob Terziani contributed three and two receptions, respectfully. Defensively the Indians shared the workload with most every player on the defense recording at least four tackles. Ryan Owens was credited with five total tackles overall, including four solo tackles.
The loss shifts the pressure from the Indians to the Raiders as neither team can ill afford another defeat if they wish to participate in the season ending Sectional play. What the Letchworth victory means is it gives the Indians the tiebreaker if it comes down to a battle for the last Sectional spot. With only four teams making the Sectional Playoffs this year, it is truly a, “one game at a time” situation for Cal-Mum. Realistically, they will probably need to run the table to make the playoffs!
Next up for the Raiders will be the Warsaw Tigers. The Tigers will host the contest this coming Friday night at the Warsaw Football Field with a game time start of 7:30 p.m. Go Raiders!
Photos of the game can be found in the following gallery: http://gallery.me.com/rlblair#100537