West Michigan Falls To Revolution
Grand Rapids, Michigan - Even when trailing in the fourth quarter of their IFL game against the West Michigan ThunderHawks, it seemed the Richmond Revolution (7-1) had them right where they wanted them. Sure enough, when the dust settled at DeltaPlex Arena, it was the visitors who celebrated a 46-44 win that looked all too familiar to their 2010 foes.
Richmond's blueprint for success is a ball-control offense that limits possessions and a bend-but-don't-break defense that forces precision execution. On Saturday night, West Michigan's quick-strike offensive attack was forced to grind out too many drives and self-destructed late in the contest.
The host ThunderHawks (4-3) tried their best to stay patient and focused and it appeared they might be rewarded in the game's final moments as they drove for a go-ahead score. With a first-and-ten at the Revolution 15-yard line, 'Hawks running back Robert Height III (Northwood) gained eight yards, but a holding penalty backed the hosts up to midfield instead. On the next play, a touchdown pass from Brad Iciek (Grand Valley State) to Emmanuel Spann (Marshall) was nullified by an offensive pass interference call that resulted in a first-and-30 at their own 15-yard line.
The situation worsened when Spann dropped a second down pass at midfield and then Iciek was sacked on third down. The miscues forced kicker David Hendrix (Grand Valley State) into a 57-yard field goal attempt, which had the distance, but sailed just right of the uprights.
Richmond then needed to get one first down to run out the remaining time on the clock. Short-yardage specialist Rodney Landers (James Madison) took a handoff and converted a third-and-three with a tackle-breaking effort that ensured Richmond its sixth single-digit win of the season.
After the Revolution built a 15-7 second quarter lead on a pair of touchdown passes from Bryan Randall (Virginia Tech) to Antwun Williams (Virginia State) and a rogue kickoff, the two Atlantic East division rivals battled through ten lead changes before a winner was decided.
Iciek's nine-yard keeper gave the hosts their first lead of the night at 16-15 with 4:09 remaining in the first half. Randall answered that with a 15-yard scamper of his own to momentarily regain the lead at 22-16, but Iciek, the IFL leader in passing yards, wasn't done yet. He hit Bryan Pray (Pittsburgh State) with a 14-yard strike to give West Michigan a 23-22 lead at the break.
Richmond running back Eugene Holloman (James Madison) scored five minutes into the third quarter on an 18-yard burst to cap off a 45-yard drive. That 29-23 edge disappeared quickly, however, as Iciek connected with Nathan Fricke (Ferris State) from six yards out just three minutes later to take a 30-29 lead for the hosts.
Back came the Revolution with a 47-yard drive that ended on Randall's third touchdown pass to Williams (15 yards) for a 36-30 Richmond advantage. That lead never made it out of the third quarter as Iciek hit a streaking Pray for a 37-yard score and a 37-36 lead heading into the final fifteen minutes.
Richmond kicker Chris Segaar (Virginia Tech) finally ended the run of seven back-and-fourth touchdowns with a 24-yard field goal, producing yet another lead change at 39-37. On cue, Height responded with a four-yard gallop midway through the stanza and it was 44-39 in favor of the 'Hawks.
Just over a minute later, the scoring was complete when Randall found Damon "Redd" Thompson (Virginia State) in the corner of the end zone. The one-play, 17-yard game-winner gives the Revolution a four game winning streak.
Iciek finished the night hitting 25-of-34 passes for 240 yards and four scores without an interception. His first touchdown pass of the evening, a 13-yard laser to Spann, tied the game at 7-7 late in the first quarter. Iciek (3-13-1 rushing) spread the wealth to his bevy of talented wideouts as Spann (10-64-1), Pray (8-112-2) and Fricke (6-57-1) all had solid nights. Pray, leading the IFL in receiving yards per game, suffered a leg injury late in the game. Height paced the ThunderHawks ground game with 20 yards and a score on five carries.
'Hawks linebacker Doug Emery (Ferris State) led all players with 15 tackles while teammate Amp Boone (Arkansas-Pine Bluff) notched 8 stops. James Skodak (Ferris State) had an interception, his fourth of the season, for West Michigan. Hendrix was 5-for-5 on extra points and added a 29-yard field goal in the first half.
Randall threw for 144 yards on 14-of-25 passing for the Revolution with 4 touchdowns and one interception. Williams was his busiest receiver (5-37-3), but Michigan State product Aaron Alexander (4-43-0) and Thompson (2-44-1) also made an impact. Richmond outrushed West Michigan 107-35, led by Holloman (10-64-1), Landers (7-32-0) and Randall (6-11-1).
Defensive back Stephen Cason (William & Mary) led the guests with 8 tackles and linebacker Vince Hall (Virginia Tech) chipped in 7 stops. In addition to his field goal, Segaar was also perfect on P.A.T.'s (6-for-6).
West Michigan led in total yards (269-251) and time of possession (33:30-26:30), but Richmond ran more plays (48-45) and held the ThunderHawks 13 points below their season average. The Revolution are the only team to hold the ThunderHawks under 50 points and have done it twice after winning 45-39 on April 10th.
The Maryland Maniacs (0-7) are up next for Richmond on May 8th as the Revolution continue a three game road swing that will culminate with a return trip to West Michigan on May 15th. The ThunderHawks will travel to Rochester (5-3) on May 8th to take on a Raiders team they beat twice to start the season.
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