(ST. CHARLES) In a topsy-turvy turf tussle, the River City Raiders kept its inaugural season unblemished with a 75-68 victory over West Michigan Sunday afternoon in front of 4,100 at Family Arena.
High scoring is not uncommon for indoor football but the 143 combined points posted by the American Indoor Football (AIF) squads certainly was eye-opening. In the seven-point win, the Raiders (2-0) climbed back from an early 21-0 deficit and survived a second-half shoot out with the Ironmen that contained seven lead changes.
River City quarterback Tarean Austin (Lindenwood University-Belleville) had a hand in nine of the ten touchdowns scored by the locals, who claimed sole possession of the lead in the ten-team AIF Northern Division.
“I didn’t expect (the score) to be this high but that’s what this sport of indoor football is all about,” said Raiders Head Coach Corey Bethany after the donnybrook. “It’s an offensive game and I tell my guys about this all the time. We just keep plugging it and plugging it and hopefully we will come out on top at the end of the game.”
The Raiders’ offense sputtered early in the first quarter and West Michigan capitalized with a pair of touchdown passes by quarterback Alex Carder. A five-yard strike to Ronald Johnson at the 8:44 mark and a seven-yard catch by Donovan Campbell four minutes later resulted in the Ironmen holding a 14-0 edge.
The shutout carried into the second frame and Carder connected with receiver Justin Mott at the 14:30 mark to widen West Michigan’s lead to 21-0 after the successful PAT kick.
West Michigan pushed the lead back to a blackjack with Corey Ringer’s four-yard touchdown carry with 6:35 left in the quarter that extended the score to 28-7 following the successful PAT kick.
Undaunted, the Raiders posted a huge surge of points in the first half’s final minute. Austin connected with Chris Headd for a three-yard strike with 1:00 remaining and with Adamson’s PAT kick, the Raiders sliced the score to 28-14.
On the next change of possession, receiver Corey Johnson scored for the Ironmen and with :47 left, West Michigan kept its consistent offensive machine chugging, leading 35-14.
Twenty-three seconds later, the Raiders responded as Austin hit a 25-yard touchdown pass to DeAndre Jackson. With :24 remaining, River City cinched the score to 35-21.
The Raiders’ defense forced a fumble on the Ironmen’s next possession and linebacker Haylon Jacobs pounced for the recovery. With two ticks left, Adamson booted a 35-yard field goal and the Raiders went into halftime trailing 35-24.
River City narrowed the game to single digits as Jackson scored his second touchdown reception of the game, a 27-yard catch from Austin, with 11:50 left in the third quarter that helped shore the score to 35-31.
Two minutes later, the Ironmen stopped the surge as Donovan Campbell’s reception pushed West Michigan’s lead to 42-31.
Back-to-back Raiders’ touchdowns resulted in a lead change as the quarter progressed. Austin’s quarterback keeper with 7:20 left in the frame, punctuated by Adamson’s successful kick, narrowed the score to 42-38. On the Ironmen’s next possession, the Raiders’ defensive front line, paced by Gary Henderson and Bernard Quinn, forced another fumble and the hosts recovered.
With 5:05 left in the quarter, Austin claimed his third score from the ground, a three-yard run, and the Raiders sported its first lead of the game, 45-42.
Both squads traded end zone trips as the quarter proceeded. Corey Ringer’s 15-yard touchdown catch for the Ironmen and Jackson’s 32-yard rebuttal for the Raiders, resulted in River City holding a 52-48 edge heading into the final quarter.
West Michigan regained the lead, 54-52, as Carder’s touchdown pass was hauled in by Donovon Campbell with 12:35 left.
The Raiders flipped the scoreboard back to its favor, 58-54, with 9:20 left as Austin faked handoffs to the backfield and rumbled in with a five-yard charge. The Ironmen rebounded, scored six, and regained the lead, 60-58 with 5:30 left.
River City snagged the seventh, and final, lead change of the afternoon as Austin connected with Jackson for a 12-yard strike with 3:25 left that gave the Raiders a 65-60 edge following Adamson’s PAT kick.
On the ensuing kickoff, Adamson, who also played soccer for the St. Louis Ambush, caromed a line-drive off an Ironman player and recovered the pigskin to hand possession back to the Raiders. River City pulled away as Austin collected in his fifth rushing touchdown of the game that helped extend the lead to 72-60 with 2:45 left.
West Michigan attempted a late surge but the Raiders outscored the Ironmen 23-20 in the final frame to collect the 75-68 victory and keep the newly-minted franchise’s record unscathed.
Austin had five touchdown runs and four touchdown passes for River City while Jackson had three scoring receptions. Adamson finished the game with 15 of the Raiders’ accrued points via a pair of field goals and by converting 9-of-10 extra point kicks.
West Michigan (0-1) was paced offensively by Carder’s nine touchdown passes.
The Raiders next play the Cincinnati Bulldogs of the Blue Collar Football League in an exhibition contest at Family Arena on Sunday, April 3. River City returns to AIF Northern Division action in an April 9 road re-match against West Michigan.
For more information on River City Raiders football, go to indoorraiders.com.