Raiders Too Much for Banged-Up West Michigan
Rochester, New York - The West Michigan ThunderHawks have the Indoor Football League's most productive passing unit. Averaging over 265 net yards passing per game, they are the IFL's version of a heavily armed fighter jet. With their top two receivers missing on Saturday, however, they looked more like an early Wright Brothers experiment in a 55-40 loss to the Rochester Raiders.
With his top two threats on the shelf, quarterback Brad Iciek (Grand Valley State) had trouble getting the Hawks offense out of the hangar, missing his first seven attempts. By the time he completed his first pass early in the second quarter, West Michigan had fallen behind 13-3.
The hosts sandwiched a pair of touchdown passes from Perry Patterson (Syracuse) to Cesare Manning (Indianapolis) around a David Hendrix (Grand Valley State) field goal, but Rochester couldn't take full advantage of their opponents' slow start. Two missed field goals by the usually reliable Adam Lanctot (SUNY Brockport) and an interception of Patterson by West Michigan's Dominique Bryson (Ball State) kept the contest competitive.
Hendrix drilled a 45-yard field goal and Iciek rifled a scoring strike to Nathan Fricke (Ferris State) and the game was suddenly tied 13-13 with 4:00 remaining in the first half. Rochester came right back with yet another Patterson-Manning connection from 26 yards but that was matched by an Iciek-Fricke encore to knot the score at 20-20.
The Raiders had one more answer before the break as Patterson hit wideout Kevin Concepcion (Buffalo) on a 13-yard touchdown toss. The 37 combined points in the second frame woke up the crowd at the Dome Arena, after an uneventful opening 15 minutes.
The ThunderHawks got the ball to start the third quarter but a pair of incompletions and a holding penalty forced a 55-yard field goal try from Hendrix. The kick was perfectly arced under the wooden roof but came up just short as Jamil Porter (Temple) caught the miss under the crossbar and headed upfield. Porter weaved his way through traffic and 58 yards later the Raiders had a 34-20 lead.
A Rochester personal foul on the next drive set up West Michigan at the hosts' 14-yard line and two plays later, Robert Height III (Northwood) powered his way over the goal line. Hendrix followed with a rare miss and the Raiders held an uneasy 34-26 advantage at the 9:10 mark.
The Raiders then got another key play on special teams to begin breaking the game open as Raphael Nguti (Albany) used his 6-foot-7 frame to block a Hendrix three-pointer. Rochester needed just two plays to go 11 yards as Patterson zipped a perfect ball through tight coverage to Concepcion in the back of the end zone on the final play of the third quarter to increase the lead to 41-26.
Tarryl Gano (Monroe CC) intercepted Iciek on the next possession and that eventually led to Porter's 10-yard scoring burst up the middle. The 7-play drive worked the bulge up to 48-26 and the clock down to 8:52 left in the final quarter.
West Michigan fought back to within 48-33 after Iciek capped a 6-play drive with a 1-yard keeper with just over 5 minutes remaining. A ThunderHawks onside kick attempt backfired when the Raiders recovered at West Michigan's 14-yard line. Patterson dumped a screen to the elusive Porter who danced his way into the end zone and the lead finally seemed safe at 55-33.
But Iciek and his patched-up offense still had a rebuttal as he found Fricke behind the defense for their third connection of the night to finish the scoring. Rochester recovered another onside kick attempt in the final seconds but failed to score twice from the 1-yard line and then took a knee on the game's final play.
Iciek, leading the league with an average of 287 passing yards per outing, finished below 200 for the first time this season with 169 yards on 17-of-31 accuracy. His 3 touchdowns give him 35 in 7 starts during a phenomenal rookie campaign.
Fricke (4-37-3), Arkansas-Pine Bluff's Jason Jones (5-72-0), Height (5-35-0) and Wayne State product Nate Collins (3-24-0) did an admirable job filling in for Bryan Pray (Pittsburgh State) and Emmanuel Spann (Marshall), who make up 45 per cent of the ThunderHawks' all-purpose yardage and 67 per cent of the team's receiving scores in 2010.
Linebacker Doug Emery (Ferris State) led the guests with 9 tackles. Rochester held a slight 204-177 edge in total yards. Patterson matched his counterpart throw-for-throw, hitting 19-of 27 passes for 168 yards and 6 scores. Manning (5-100-3), Concepcion (6-21-2) and Porter (3-25-1) led a receiving corps that was also without one of its playmakers as Chris Carter (Elizabeth City College) sat out with a shoulder injury.
Porter added 26 yards on 7 carries to pace the ground game. Brenton Brady (Alfred) led the Raiders with 11 stops.
Rochester (6-3), winners of 5-of-6 since dropping a pair of games to West Michigan in March, will host winless Maryland (0-8) on Saturday, May 15th. TheRaiders have knocked off the Maniacs twice already, 52-36 and 46-39.
The ThunderHawks (4-4), who dressed only 20 players including three who made their season debut, will battle Atlantic East Division leading Richmond (8-1) that same night. Richmond has won the first two meetings by scores of 45-39 and 46-44.
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Indoor Football League Stories from May 9, 2010
- Revolution Win Again, Defeat Maniacs - Richmond Revolution
- Raiders Too Much for Banged-Up West Michigan - West Michigan Thunderhawks
- Roughnecks Sweep Season Series Over Austin, 46-29 - West Texas Roughnecks
- Chicago Slaughter Secure Victory On The Road Over Green Bay Blizzard - Chicago Slaughter
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