(ST. CHARLES, MO) Because of the tight, six-team Arena Pro Football (APF) complexion, there is very little wiggle room for squads if they wish to position themselves on the “plus side” of the league’s overall standings.
Tack onto that the high-scoring game itself, where small-slip ups early could easily lead to insurmountable odds for the trailing team that aims to push itself onto the APF’s upper echelon.
For the River City Raiders Saturday night at Family Arena, early turnovers were a main component of the team’s 54-39 loss to the Richmond Roughriders. With six offensive miscues on the evening, combined with the visitors’ 19-0 first-half rally, River City (1-2) dropped their second straight contest and now finds themselves occupying the middle section of the APF’s sextet totem pole.
Conversely, the successful Roughriders (2-0) were propelled by quarterback Jimmy Laughrea’s four touchdown passing performance.
Following a game-launching defensive pick that resulted in prime positioning at the River City seven-yard line, Richmond quickly drew first blood on its opening drive with Daniel Barnes’ one-yard plunge at the 12:45 mark that resulted in the visitors’ 6-0 lead.
The Raiders responded with an eight-play, 30-yard counter-attack that was finished by quarterback Kevis Hamilton’s five-yard plunge that tied the game with 7:15 remaining in the first quarter. Kicker James Neal followed with a successful PAT as River City snared a 7-6 edge.
As the quarter progressed, the Raiders’ defense rattled Richmond and defensive back Juan Bolden’s 34-yard interception gave River City an optimal launch point six yards away from the end zone. Unfortunately, River City fumbled the ball away and handed possession back to the Roughriders.
Richmond quickly capitalized on the miscue as Laughrea hit Justin Burke for a 39-yard strike with 3:10 left in the frame as the visitors flipped the scoreboard to their favor, 12-7.
The momentum carried over into the second quarter and with 13:15 left in the half, Barnes plunged in from three yards out to widen the lead to 18-7. Ricky Segers added the PAT kick to push the differential to a dozen points. Barnes rumbled in a six-yarder eight minutes later that finished the 19-0 Richmond rally that rose the score to 26-7.
With things looking somewhat shaky early for the hosts, River City scored 15 uncontested points and shored the score. Hamilton connected with receiver DeAndre Jackson for a 15-yard touchdown with 2:30 left in the half and with Neal’s extra point kick, the Raiders trailed 26-14.
On Richmond’s ensuing possession, the Raiders’ defense forced a 38-yard field goal attempt, as punts are not allowed in the APF. Segers’ ensuing kick fell short of the uprights and with an active ball in play, River City’s Jackson fielded the pigskin and returned it for a 49-yard scamper that resulted in a Raiders’ touchdown that sliced Richmond’s lead to 26-20 with :40 left in the half.
Neal added the extra point and then booted the ensuing kickoff through the uprights, resulting in back-to-back Raider solo points and Richmond’s now-slim 26-22 edge.
Richmond claimed the last score of the half with Laughrea’s 38-yard slinger to Daniel Lee and, with Segers’ successful kick that followed, possessed a 33-22 advantage at intermission.
Mechanically by the visitors from the second half’s onset, Barnes claimed his third touchdown scamper of the contest via a one-yard plunge at the 10:30 mark of the third quarter that widened Richmond’s lead to 39-22.
River City was able to post points on their first possession as Neal booted a 42-yard field goal with 6:40 left in the third quarter that narrowed the score to 39-25 and blasted the ensuing kickoff through the uprights that resulted in a four-point rush that made the scoreboard read 39-26 in favor of the visitors.
Richmond quickly smothered the Raiders’ momentum as Laughrea connected with Lee for a 29-yard end zone strike and, following Segers’ successful PAT kick, widened its lead to 20 points, 46-26 with 4:30 left in the quarter. Seger split the wickets on the kickoff for the additional point and the Roughriders stretched the score to 47-33.
Heading into the final frame, the Raiders’ refused to wave the white flag and constructed a five-play, 35-yard scoring drive. Hamilton connected with receiver Keenan Miller for a 19-yard touchdown with 12:45 left in the contest and Neal added the PAT to narrow Richmond’s lead to a pair of scores, 47-33.
With eight minutes left, the Roughriders’ Laughrea claimed his fourth scoring pass of the night, a 26-yard pass to Burke, which widened their lead to 54-33.
Late in the game, River City’s Jackson netted his third score of the night, a 14-yard touchdown catch from Hamilton with 1:31 left, but Richmond’s total output in the second half (21-17) helped the Roughriders claim the 54-39 victory and remain undefeated on the season. Laughrea finished the night 12-21 for 251 yards and four touchdowns.
For River City, Hamilton finished the night 14-29 for 200 yards and three touchdowns while Jackson also had a trifecta of touchdowns.