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Capitols Welcome RiverCity as Playoff Drive Begins

June 29, 2002 - National Indoor Football League (NIFL) - Lincoln Capitols News Release

The Lincoln Capitols resume the NIFL regular season Saturday night when they meet the RiverCity Renegades in a 7:35PM contest at the Pershing Center. Lincoln had a bye this past weekend after moving back atop the Pacific North standings with a 72-70 victory over the Bismarck Roughriders June 14th.

The Capitols scored twice within 65 seconds in the fourth quarter to regain the lead for the first time since the second period, and after seeing Bismarck score with just over a half minute remaining, Chace Long knocked through his third field goal of the night on as many attempts. Lincoln’s heroics were set up by Long’s foot as well. After a one-yard plunge by Rayshawn Askew with 2:39 remaining, Long sent a tumbling onside kick towards the far boards, where Jesse Gronemeyer recovered. Lincoln took advantage of the possession, scoring five plays later when quarterback Josh Luedtke found Ryan Hinske for a seven yard scoring strike, the third time the pair hooked up for a touchdown. Tyrone Tyler caught the two-point conversion to give Lincoln a 69-63 advantage with 1:34 to play.

Bismarck’s A.J. Street returned the ensuing kickoff to the 18 yard line, and following a three-yard delay penalty against Lincoln, led the Roughriders to the end zone with 32 seconds showing on the clock, finding Quentin Cradle on a 17-yard toss for a touchdown.

Lincoln’s Ty Goode snared the kickoff at the 22-yard line of Capitols’ territory, and the Capitols ran time down to set up Long’s field goal, giving Lincoln the two-point win, and evening the season series between the Roughriders and Capitols.

Luedtke threw for 213 yards on a 21-of-30 night, matching his season best with six touchdowns. He found Tyler a season high 10 times for 88 yards and a pair of scores and Hinske five times for 70 yards and three touchdowns. Askew ran for a pair of touchdowns and finished with a season high 22 carries, racking up 90 yards. Luedtke and Long were honored by the NIFL as the Pacific Conference’s offensive and special teams players of the week, respectively.

The St. Charles, Mo., based Renegades are in the middle of an ownership change after joining the NIFL after the IPFL folded. The team’s new management has contracted with 2003 expansion franchise St. Joseph, Mo., for St. Joe to play road games the remainder of the season. The Renegades’ road warriors have dropped their only two contests, managing 19 points in losses at Ohio Valley and Austin.

The Explorers were on the verge of joining the NIFL this season, but financial concerns kept them out of the expansion pool for 2002. The team then joined the Nebraska Indoor Football League, running to a 9-0 record before being brought into the NIFL.

NIFL Playoff Picture Saturday night’s Sioux City win over Omaha clarifies the playoff picture a little. The Bandits and Capitols each hold marks of 8-4, with Lincoln holding the edge in the pursuit of a divisional crown. The Capitols downed the Bandits twice this season to claim the head-to-head advantage and also hold a better divisional record (5-2 to 4-3) over the Bandits.

In the Pacific West, Bismarck’s blowout of Billings solidifies the Roughriders status as the likely divisional winner. Bismarck leads the Capitols by one game in the race for the Pacific’s best record.

If the playoffs began today: Pacific Conference: (4) Sioux City at (1) Bismarck (3) Billings at (2) Lincoln

Atlantic Conference: (4) Tennessee at (1) Ohio Valley* (3) Louisiana at (2) Lake Charles *Pending outcome of OV appeal of forfeit to Winston-Salem

Notes The Capitols and Bismarck are the league’s only two teams to lay claim to having two players in the top ten of scoring this season. The Capitols’ Rayshawn Askew and Chace Long rank seventh and eighth, respectively. Askew has scored 126 points this season, Long 123 and leads all kickers in scoring...Askew is the third-ranked rusher in the league, running for 683 yards and trailing only Birdie Dockery of Ohio Valley and Mike Cosey of Tennessee...Damon Benning’s 57 receptions ranks him fifth in the league. He is fourth-ranked in all-purpose yards, averaging 127 yards a game...Josh Luedtke’s 1898 yards passing ranks fifth among the league’s quarterbacks...The Capitols’ Darrell Jack and Travis Kopf are tied for fourth among defenders in tackles made. Each has made 107 tackles on the year...Jay Eilers, formerly of Lincoln’s af2 franchise, is on the roster of the Explorers. Eilers teaches and coaches at St. Joe’s Central High after graduating from Division II power Northwest Missouri State.

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