Home Richmond Raiders football hosts Harrisburg on Saturday night

Richmond Raiders football hosts Harrisburg on Saturday night

RichmondRaidersThe Richmond Raiders will host their annual Memorial Day Weekend home game on Saturday, May 24 when the Harrisburg Stampede come to town for a PIFL National Conference battle.

The game will be on Military Appreciation Night sponsored by Richmond International Airport. Military personnel can get tickets for just $5, and additional ticket specials are available to all fans for this second of three meetings between the newly reacquainted rivals. Kickoff is at 7:00 pm at the Richmond Coliseum. The first 750 fans through the doors will receive a free mini football courtesy of Richmond International Airport.

Since the Raiders last faced the Stampede, they’ve had two games against the Trenton Freedom including last week’s 52-42 setback that wasn’t decided until the final seconds. The teams traded the lead throughout the first half with Trenton coming out ahead by three at halftime. Two early second half turnovers by the Raiders sprung the Freedom to a 17 point lead, but Phil Konopka ran for a two yard touchdown, then tossed a 30 yard bomb to Derrick Hector following an onside kick recovery to bring the Raiders to within three in the final two minutes. Richmond stopped Melik Brown on three short goal to go carries and a defensive stand was in the works. But the Freedom, electing to go for the touchdown on 4th and goal, sprung tight end Lavon McCoy for a three yard reception, which accounted for the final margin once the Raiders turned the ball over on downs on their final possession.

The Raiders set season highs in points and total offense as Konopka, settling in at quarterback since being acquired before the first matchup with Harrisburg, had 249 yards passing and three total touchdowns. Daron Clark had a 53 yard kickoff return to set up one of Kenny Jones’ two rushing TDs, and Kevin Allen returned from an injury to record his team leading fourth interception.

The Stampede scored a season high point total in their 72-64 win over the Georgia Fire last week. Neither offense could be stopped in the first half, as the teams matched each other touchdown for touchdown and went to halftime tied at 29. The Fire took the lead on one of Cecil Lester’s nine touchdown passes, but Lester and the Fire started to make mistakes. After Harrisburg reclaimed the lead with an E.J. Nemeth to Collis Martin touchdown, Lester was picked off in the end zone, leading to an eight minute drive by the Stampede that ended when Nemeth found Scorpio Brown in the end zone on fourth and goal. On Lester’s next pass, John Harris fumbled and Nemeth struck quickly to put Harrisburg up by 16. Though Lester would bring his team back on several occasions, the Fire didn’t recover any of their four onside kick attempts, including the last one with 11 seconds left trailing by 8. The Stampede offense ran out the clock, marking the only possession on which they didn’t score in the fourth quarter.

The teams met previously this season in Richmond on April 19, when the Stampede scored on offense, defense, and special teams in building a 28-1 lead. The Raiders would get no closer than 11 points the rest of the way, eventually falling 48-27. Phil Konopka threw two interceptions in his first start, but has thrown just one in the two games since. The clubs squared off three times from 2010 to 2011, but the rivalry went on hiatus until the Stampede joined the PIFL prior to the 2014 season.

Nemeth leads the league in total offense and touchdown responsibility, and has proved to be a dual threat. He’s attempted more passes than any other team, and has just one less rush than the league leader. Getting pressure on him will be important for the Raiders defense that ranks second in sacks and got to Nemeth four times in the first meeting. Ball security will go a long way toward determining the winner, as the Raiders have committed a league high 18 turnovers.

The Stampede have the most takeaways in the PIFL (16), including four in the first meeting with the Raiders. Saturday’s matchup will be Military Appreciation Night, and all active military personnel may purchase tickets for just $5 with their military ID. The game is sponsored by Richmond International Airport. Tickets are also available in a buy 3, get 1 free package, as well as a family 4-pack which includes tickets, hot dogs, popcorn, and soft drinks all for one low price.

Additionally, every full price lower level ticket bought in advance comes with a $5 merchandise or concession coupon. Doors open at 5:30, so get to the Coliseum early for all the fun and the free mini football giveaway!

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.



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