Fourth Quarter Comeback Gives Raiders First Win
Defense and special teams sprung the Richmond Raiders to a furious fourth quarter comeback, as the team ended the game on a 20-0 run and got their first win of the 2014 season, 38-35 over the Alabama Hammers.
The Hammers took a 35-18 lead into the fourth quarter and threatened to blow the game wide open when they moved the ball to the Raiders’ 9 yard line. But the fun was only just beginning, as Malik Cromartie intercepted Kevin Huff and returned it 43 yards down the sideline for a touchdown to bring the Raiders within 10. Undaunted, the Hammers offense methodically drove the ball to the Raiders’ 7 yard line. With just over five minutes remaining, Kevin Allen made a one-handed, leaping interception to give the Raiders the ball near midfield.
Two plays later, Hakeem Moore made a highlight reel play. He tipped Steffen Colon’s pass in the air, then pinned it against his helmet while avoiding a defender, secured the ball and scampered into the end zone to pull the Raiders within three. By now, Huff and the Hammers were flustered, and on the second play of their drive Allen picked off Huff again. During the return, Charles McClain stripped the ball and recovered it to give the Hammers a fresh set of downs.
Anxious to finish the job they started, the Raiders’ defense forced a long field goal attempt after stopping Huff on a keeper inside of one minute to stop the clock, then sacking him for the third time in the game. Armando Cuko pooched the field goal in an attempt to prevent a return, but his strategy backfired. Torez Jones picked up the ball on a couple of bounces, spun away from a would be tackler, and didn’t stop running until he was in the end zone and the Raiders led by three.
Misadventures on the extra point ensured that a crazy game would get only crazier. A bad snap forced a rollout by Colon as the holder, and when he fumbled the Hammers tried to return it for a defensive two point conversion. That runback eventually was stopped, and the Hammers got the ball back with 29 seconds to go. Two plays netted only six yards, and with three seconds left, they attempted a multiple lateral, multiple batted-ball play that kept the fans on edge until Jones picked up the loose ball to secure the win.
Herb Jones made a highlight reel touchdown catch around a defender’s body to keep the Raiders within shouting distance in a third quarter dominated by the Hammers in terms of time of possession and scoring, as they got two touchdowns in the period. Mico McSwain found himself wide open twice for touchdowns; and Huff threw for four scores and rushed for another before his fourth quarter troubles.
Colon made his first start under center and threw for 138 yards and three touchdowns but fumbled a snap and lost control of the ball a second time while scrambling in the first half. He was sharp when he needed to be in the second, even though the offense only had three possessions and didn’t touch the ball for the final 2:28.
The Raiders will return to action next Saturday, April 19 against the Harrisburg Stampede. Family four packs are available for all remaining home games. Individual tickets start as low as $7, and are available on the Raiders’ website, www.RichmondRaidersProFootball.com, or by calling 1-855-GO-RAIDERS or 804-780-0430. Additionally, fans can contact the Richmond Coliseum box office or visit ticketmaster.com.