Richmond Bandits Advance to AIFL Championship with 50-40 win over Johnstown
RICHMOND - Trailing by four in the waining minutes of the third quarter, Richmond quarterback Robbie Jenkins completed a 9-yard touchdown pass to Brian Still to put his squad ahead for good as the Bandits rallied to defeat the Johnstown Riverhawks 50-40 Monday night in the AIFL semifinal match-up.
With the win, Richmond's ninth consecutive and seventh at the Richmond Coliseum, the Bandits advance to the Atlantic Indoor Football League Championship next Saturday, July 16th. Awaiting Richmond (10-1) will be the Erie Freeze, who boast the same overall record as the Bandits.
Erie was the only team to get the best of Richmond this season -- a 55-45 victory in Pennsylvania.
"This was a great win," said Bandits' head coach Rik Richards. "We knew we would be in for a fight and that's exactly what Johnstown gave us. I give a lot of credit to our guys for continuing to fight and making things happen to turn the tide in our favor. It's great to get the win here in front of our crowd -- they were outstanding tonight and helped make a big difference on defense for us."
Entering the fourth quarter, the Bandits had pulled ahead by three and were desparetly needing a stop on defense to swing the game's momentum. On the first official play of the final quarter, Shannon Davis made a leaping grab to intercept Johnstown QB Chris Thompson and give the Bandits the ball back. Jenkins and company converted the turnover into seven points on the other end to push the game to its final margin.
Leading the way offensively for Richmond was former Virginia Tech standout, Brian Still. The wideout hauled in nine passes for 128 yards and a game-high four touchdowns, including the game-winner. Receivers Marcel Willis and DeAndre Green combined for 136 yards on 10 catches, each tallying a touchdown.
Bobby Phillips rumbled in from a yard out in the first quarter to tally a rushing score.
Jenkins completed 19-of-33 passes for 264 yards and six touchdowns and three interceptions.
On defense, Cedric Phillips led the way for Richmond, tallying five total stops, including two tackles for loss. Chris Brown, a new addition to the Bandits lineup, added three and a half stops, breaking up a pass and intercepting the final heave towards the endzone on the game's final play.
"Our line made a great difference in the game," said Richards. "Julian Graham and Lawrence Lewis, just to highlight a few, played phenomenal. They are such critical leaders for us and they played lights out and helped lead a very solid effort."
Lewis finished off Johnstown quarterback Chris Thompson for a safety late in the first half.
The first three quarters of action Monday night saw at least 27 combined points, each team answering tallies by the other. Richmond led at the half, 30-26.
"We've accomplished many of the goals we set at the beginning of the season. But there is one large one still looming out there for us -- and that's the AIFL Championship," said Richards. "We were hoping to get another chance to play Erie as they were our only loss this year, and now we get that chance. It will be an amazing challenge. Coach Esposito is a great coach and he has a great team, what a game it should be."
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American Indoor Football Association Stories from July 11, 2005
- Richmond Bandits Advance to AIFL Championship with 50-40 win over Johnstown - Richmond Bandits
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