By Jack Adams
The Cardinal Ritter Raiders returned to their home turf on Friday, October 20, to play the Rushville Lions in the first round of Sectionals. The game was long, but the night was blessed. The Raiders triumphed over their opponents, defeating the Lions 55-14, the highest scoring game they’ve had all season. There were several bold and phenomenal plays on both sides, yet it turned out to be one of the more tamer games as far as Sectionals go.
Right from the get-go, Rushville tried to pull a fast one on Cardinal Ritter, onsiding the kick. However, Daniel “the Slammer” Ayala was quick to cover up the ball at the Raider 49 yard line and get the show on the road. Darrell “Quicksilver” Roberson carried the ball for two yards on the first play, but there was no gain on 2nd down. Thereafter, the Lions intercepted a pass at the Raider 45 with 10:24 left in the first quarter.
Rushville ran the ball for four on 1st down and Mitchell Wilson was there for the tackle. Kendall “Demolition” Dalverny and Manolo “Man-O-War” Suazo were quick to shut down the QB run for no gain on the play after. Wilson made another stop on 3rd down after a short gain of three on the ground. Facing 4th and 3 from the Raider 38 yard line, the Lions went for the conversion, but Javon “the Shield” Rodgers and Ayala blocked the path and turned over the ball at the Raider 39 after a brief two-minute possession.
On 1st down, Cardinal Ritter lost a yard, but Brad “Big Play” Bacon showed the fans just how big his plays can get as he caught a pass from Diomoni “Supreme” Small for a 62-yard touchdown, just under a minute into the Raider drive. Matthew “Ironfoot” Boberg kicked the point after, which was good, giving the Raiders a lead over the opposing team.
Boberg kicked the ball back to Rushville and Eric Krumm made the tackle at the Lion 19 yard line. Rushville picked up about three yards on 1st down, but Ben “the Jet” Egenolf made the 2nd down tackle for a loss of four. After an incomplete pass on 3rd down, the Lions punted the ball out of bounds at their own 23 yard line, putting the Raiders in excellent scoring position with 5:34 remaining in the first.
On a sweep, Bacon carried the ball for a good 14 yards. On the play after, Egenolf carried the ball the last nine yards for another Raider touchdown. Boberg kicked the PAT through the goal posts and then launched the ball clear across the field for a touchback.
On 1st down, Egenolf made the tackle after the Lions’ pickup of three. Following an incomplete pass, the Rushville QB ran the ball for a 1st down. The Lions made a few small carries, fighting against the oppressive forces of Henry “A-Bomb” Woodcock, Bryce “Black and Blue” Giebel, Seth “the Kraken” Knutson, Jake “the Snake” Kluemper, and Suazo. Wilson made a tackle on a three-yard gain, followed subsequently by a tackle from a five-yard gain. From the Raider 35 yard line, the Lions drove the ball into the endzone for their first touchdown with just under a minute in the first quarter. Rushville attempted the 2-point conversion, but Woodcock and Wilson offered strong coverage and the play was no good.
The Lions kicked another onside to the Raiders and Egenolf managed to recover the ball, but Cardinal Ritter was charged with holding during the play, causing them to begin from their own 35 yard line. Xion Russell rushed the ball for a big 18 yards, but the Raiders suffered a loss of three on the next play, taking them back to the 50 yard line. When the first quarter ended, the scoreboard read 14-6, Cardinal Ritter.
As the second quarter began, the Lions were penalized for being offsides, giving the Raiders an easy five yards. Small completed a 10 yard pass to Woodcock for a 1st down, complimented by a six-yard completion to Kyle “Kay Pee Zee” Price. Small carried the ball for a pickup of four, gaining another 1st down. The Raiders were unable to move the chains any further, resulting in a turnover at the Lion 20 yard line with 10 minutes left in the first half.
On 1st down, Rushville ran the ball, but “Charging” Trey Hunt and Woodcock made the tackle for no gain. The Lions rushed the ball for a big 26-yard 1st down, but then had no gain on the ensuing play. Rushville threw an incomplete pass on 2nd down as Egenolf provided heavy coverage. The Lions ran the ball on the next play and the Raiders were charged with facemask, giving Rushville an automatic 1st down. However, as the Lions ran the ball again on the next play, they were penalized with a personal foul, costing them 10 yards and pushing them back to their own 47 yard line. Rushville then threw another incomplete pass, which Egenolf and Knutson nearly picked off. The Lions suffered a loss of two on 2nd down and had yet another incomplete pass on the following play. From their own 45, Rushville punted the ball out of bounds at the Raider 35 yard line with seven minutes left in the second quarter.
On the first play of their next drive, Small threw a pass to Price, who caught it for a huge 25-yard gain. There was a loss of five on the play after, but Egenolf persisted in catching a pass from Small for eight yards. Facing 3rd and 7, Small passed to Egenolf again, who caught the ball for a 37-yard touchdown, not but half a minute having passed on the clock. Ironfoot’s PAT was good and he kicked the ball back to Rushville. Unfortunately, Cardinal Ritter was charged with a personal foul during the play, allowing the Lions to begin from their own 40 yard line.
Giebel and Woodcock stopped the 1st down run for no gain. There was an incomplete pass on the next play, followed by a holding charge called against Rushville, moving them back to 3rd and 24 from their own 26 yard line. After another incomplete pass, in which the Lions were again flagged, this time for intentional grounding, Rushville was faced with 4th and 30 from their own 20 yard line. The Lions punted the ball, which rolled to a stop at the Lion 46 with 5:15 left in the second quarter.
Small drove the ball through the Rushville D-line for a 10-yard carry. Xion Russell dominated down the field, charging for 30 yards between three plays. From the Lion 6, Russell carried the ball home for a Raider touchdown, 3:17 remaining in the first half. Boberg kicked the PAT to tack on another point before kicking the return to Rushville, who began their drive from their own 37 yard line.
The Lions had a tough time during their possession losing a yard on 1st down and suffering an additional loss of five due to an illegal formation penalty. The Lions threw an incomplete pass on 2nd down, which Egenolf nearly intercepted. Rushville managed to complete a pass on the next play, but Ayala made the tackle, causing no gain. From their own 31 yard line, the Lions punted the ball to Cardinal Ritter. Egenolf made the return to the Raider 49 with just under two minutes before halftime.
After an incomplete pass on 1st down, Bacon caught a ball from Small for 18 yards. Price followed this up with a 33-yard touchdown completion from Small. Boberg’s extra point was good, though only after being delayed due to the Lions being charged with both unsportsmanlike conduct and encroachment. Ironfoot kicked the ball back to Rushville, landing it again in their endzone for a touchback.
Working with 1:15 on the clock, the Lions began their last short drive before halftime. Rushville managed to gain a yard on the ground, but Suazo was quick to shut the play down. Between the next two plays, Rushville carried the ball for 11 yards. However, on their last play before the clock ran out, the Lions fumbled the ball and Giebel made the recovery. As halftime began, the score was 35-6, Raiders.
When the second half opened up, the Raiders sought to only build upon their huge lead. Boberg kicked the ball to Rushville, who returned it to their own 15 yard line. The Lions gained eight yards on 1st down, but lost nine on the ensuing play due to a personal foul. On the next play, Rushville threw another incomplete pass, but the Raiders were charged with holding and pass interference, giving the Lions a first down at their own 29. Rushville scrambled with a loose ball and lost three yards as “the Shield” and “Man-O-War” made the joint tackle. The Lions picked up four on the 3rd down run, but were halted by Ayala, Hunt, and Kluemper. This, however, did not deter Rushville, who managed a 12-yard pass for a 1st down. Their cause was furthered as they moved up an additional 13 yards due to a personal foul against Cardinal Ritter. The Lions had no gain on the next play thanks to Hunt, and Suazo making the tackle on the next play, costing Rushville six yards. After an incomplete pass on 3rd down, the Lions punted the ball out of bounds at the Raider 32, leaving Seven minutes in the third quarter.
Russell ran the ball for six on the first play, followed by a completed pass from Small to Woodcock for another nine yards. Russell ran the ball for a giant 28 yards, complimented by an eight-yard carry by Roberson. Egenolf caught an eight-yard pass from Small and Roberson carried the ball to the Lion 3 yard line on a six-yard run. On the play after, Quicksilver ran the toss into the endzone for a Raider touchdown, just under four minutes in the third. The PAT was good (thank you, Ironfoot) and Boberg kicked the ball to Rushville, who returned it to their own 22 before being stopped by Tre Stubbs.
The Lions kept the ball on the ground for their first two plays, picking up 39 yards as Donovan Morris made both tackles. Rushville completed a seven-yard pass, taking them to the Raider 32, but Morris broke up the pass on the next play, proving to be a powerful defender. Suazo made the tackle on the play after, taking the Lions to 4th and 1 from the Raider 30. Rushville went for it and the collective Cardinal Ritter D-line piled up on the ensuing run. However, the Lions managed to make the conversion, continuing their possession. Woodcock made the tackle on the next play and Rushville was charged with holding, sending them back to 1st and 21 from the Raider 39 yard line. Morris broke up another pass, resulting in an incompletion, followed by a short pass for a gain of three on 2nd down. Rushville attempted to drive forward with their passing strategy, but Kluemper intercepted the ball at the Raider 8 yard line on the next play, mere seconds on the clock.
The last 12 minutes were going to be long for the Lions.
As the final quarter began, Cardinal Ritter wasn’t looking to let up. Russell ran the ball for another eight yards, and Timothy Godsil rushed for 11 yards on the next play. Russell picked up another three on the ground, followed subsequently by a gain of three by Marlon “Hotshot” Anderson. Godsil ran the ball for six to the Raider 49, and Anderson wowed the crowd with a whopping 51-yard touchdown carry.
The fans were ecstatic. The wind carried whispers of the Raider Fight Song to the far corners of the Midwest. The hearts of every Raider on the field, the track and in the stands was thumping to the same rhythm. There would be no stopping the Raider Nation.
Boberg kicked the point after, which was good, and kicked the ball back to Rushville, who began their drive from their own 31 yard line.
The Lions completed a 19-yard pass and Wilson made the stop. A run play gave Rushville another three on the ground, but they threw an incomplete pass on the next play. After throwing a second incomplete pass on 3rd down, which Morris nearly picked off, the Lions were charged with holding, taking them back to 3rd and 19 from their own 42 yard line. In what seemed like déjà vu, Rushville again threw an incompletion, which Morris again nearly intercepted, and again a flag was thrown onto the field. This one, however, was against Cardinal Ritter for pass interference, moving the Lions back up to 3rd and 4 from the Raider 43 yard line. As sad as it was, Rushville threw one more incomplete pass and followed this up with a fumble, which Ayala recovered at the Raider 36.
With about seven minutes left in the game, Cardinal Ritter began their next possession. As the JV team took over on the turf, Ashton Hall gained a yard on 1st down. Godsil drove the ball down the field for a would-be massive 68-yard touchdown, but the Raiders were penalized for holding, restraining them to 2nd and 21 from their own 25 yard line. Godsil carried the ball for a 10-yard gain on the next play and then managed to do a double take as he charged triumphantly down the gridiron for a 65-yard touchdown. Despite this, the Raiders were still flagged for a sideline infraction. However, the Raider Family did not let this take away from their elation. Cardinal Ritter attempted a 2-point conversion, but fell short. Cam Houston went in and kicked the ball to Rushville, who returned it to the Raider 44 as Sam Peterson and Ethan Johnson made the tackle.
The Lions began their last drive of the game with just under five minutes left on the clock. Rushville threw an incomplete pass, but the Raiders were flagged for pass interference, giving the Lions a free first down. After another incomplete pass, Rushville ran the ball, but Nick Salmon made the tackle for a loss of two on the play. Over the next three plays, the Lions rushed the ball down the field for 21 yards. Scrambling to make a play with a loose ball, Rushville lost a yard as James Highsaw and Peterson made the tag team tackle. The Lions managed to score one more touchdown two plays later with about half a minute left in the game. Their 2-point attempt was good and Rushville kicked an onside to the Raiders, which Peterson covered up at the Raider 47 yard line.
On offense, Small threw for 216 yards in the air and 3 touchdowns. Bacon caught 2 balls for 80 yards and a touchdown, followed by Price with 3 balls for 62 yards and a touchdown, and Woodcock with 2 balls for 20 yards. Russell led the ground game with 11 carries for 94 yards and a touchdown, followed by Anderson with 2 carries for 52 yards and a touchdown, Roberson with 4 carries for 19 yards and a touchdown, and Godsil with 5 carries and a touchdown. Boberg was 7/7 in PATs.
Hunt led the defense with 9 tackles (6 solo), followed by Suazo with 7 tackles (5 solo), and Wilson (5 solo), Ayala (4 solo), Giebel (4 solo) and Rodgers (3 solo) with 6 tackles each. Kluemper added 5 tackles (3 solo), and Ben Egenolf made 4 tackles (all solo) and scored two touchdowns on offense.
Next week, the Raiders will go on to play a home game against the Indian Creek Braves in the second round of Sectionals next Friday, October 27 at 7 pm. Come out and support our boys in red!