Bandits crowned inaugural AIFL champions; Win 56-30 over Freeze

July 17, 2005 - American Indoor Football Association (AIFA) - Richmond Bandits News Release

ERIE, PA - The Richmond Bandits scored 21-unanswered points to conclude the first half and limited the Erie Freeze to a total of nine points after intermission to secure the first-ever Governor's Cup and the Atlantic Indoor Football League Championship with the 56-30 win Saturday night.

The win avenged a Week Two loss to the Freeze, the only blemmish on an otherwise perfect 11-1 overall mark for Richmond's professional football team.

"Tonight was simply unbelievable," said a jubliant Richmond head coach Rik Richards. "These guys bought into the game plan that our coaching staff put together and we executed it. They really perservered after falling behind early in a hostile environment against a very tough foe."

He added, "Coach Mike Esposito is a great coach and a great friend -- he was the Coach of the Year. I really felt like he outcoached me in our first meeting, but tonight, our staff as a collective whole did a phenominal job of breaking down the film and getting these guys ready to play. But honestly, it all hasn't sunk in yet."

Trailing 21-7 midway through the second quarter, the Bandits behind starting quarterback Robbie Jenkins scored back-to-back touchdowns to pull even in the waining moments of the half. On the ensuing possession, the Freeze were driving, but former VMI Keydet Quesuan Wigfall intercepted a David Dinkins pass in the endzone, returning it 52 yards for the score and a 28-21 Richmond lead at the half.

Dinkins, who was named the league's Most Valuable Player during halftime, was picked off a total of six times on the night. Wigfall recorded two INT's, including the half-ending score, to thwart back-to-back Erie drives in the second quarter. Richmond's newest addition, Chris Brown, lead the way with three picks and defensive counterpart Shannon Davis grabbed one in the winning effort. Entering the game Saturday night, Dinkins has only given away five interceptions all season.

Offensively, Jenkins favorite target on the night was former Virginia Tech standout, Bryan Still. The Hokie accounted for three Bandit scores, including strikes from three, 10, and 13 yards. Marcel Willis dotted both the second and third quarters with 20-yard receiving scores for his two trips to the endzone. Jenkins., who statistically struggled through an 11-of-34 night throwing the ball, opened Richmond's scoring with a one-yard surge behind the strong offensive line for the rushing score.

Fullback Mike Davis provided the exclamation point to the championship by rumbling virtuely untouched into the faux-snow covered endzone from five yards out.

Richmond was presented the inaugural Governor's Cup by league owner, Andrew Haynes as confetti rained down from the rafters of the Erie Civic Center. The game is slated to be tape-delay broadcast on Spike TV on August 18 - check local listings for availability and times.

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