StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-115273831224126.jpg’, ‘Photo by Chris Anderson’, ‘Rock Rivers Greg Cole puts the clamps on Ohio Valleys quarterback during the Raptors 55-48 victory over the Greyhounds. The season finale win puts the Raptors at 11-4 and gives them a home game July 15 at the MetroCentre.’);
The Rock River Raptors end the 2006 UIF regular season with a 55-48 win over the Ohio Valley Greyhounds at the MetroCentre on Youth Hat Night.
With the win, the Raptors move their record to 11-4 on the season and will host the Sioux City Bandits in the first round of the UIF playoffs July 15 at the MetroCentre.
More impressive is that on April 29, after a 41-30 home loss to the Omaha Beef, Rock River saw their record fall to 3-3. The Raptors went on to reel off eight wins out of their last nine games to secure not only their first Central Division title but the third seed in the playoffs.
The Greyhounds end the season with a 6-9 record and needed a win over Rock River to secure a berth in the post-season.
Rock River jumped out to an early 7-0 lead on their first drive. After Billy Cook returned the opening kickoff from Ryan Sperlazza 17 yards, the Raptors needed just seven plays to go 33 yards, and Ben Sankey welcomed wide receiver Luke McArdle back to the Raptors line-up with a 6-yard scoring strike. Dillon Pieffers extra-point kick made the score 7-0 with almost 5 minutes gone in the game.
McArdle returned to the Raptors line-up after suffering a foot injury earlier in the season.
Ohio Valley came right back and scored on an eight-play, 38-yard drive that culminated with Antonio Kings 2-yard touchdown run. Sperlazzas kick tied the game at 7-7.
The two teams ended the quarter by trading touchdowns, and the Raptors led 14-13 at the end of one quarter.
Jeremiah Thompson caught a 5-yard scoring pass from Sankey, and Greyhounds signal caller Matt Kohn found Will Austin for a 2-yard touchdown pass. The Raptors blocked the extra-point kick.
Rock River started to pull away a little bit in the second quarter as they outscored the Greyhounds 28-13 to take a 42-26 lead at half-time.
Randy Bell got the Raptors second quarter scoring started as he hit pay-dirt from 5 yards out to make the score 21-13 in favor of Rock River.
Ohio Valley made the score 21-20 as Kohn completed a 9-yard touchdown pass to Antonio King.
Rock River was able to get the momentum right back as Bell took Sperlazzas kick and raced 50 yards for a touchdown, and afters Pieffers kick, it was 28-20 in favor of the Raptors.
The McArdle-to-Sankey connection worked two more times in the second quarter as the duo hooked up from 39 and 7 yards.
The defenses for both teams tightened up in the third quarter as the Raptors pitched a shut-out and scored 10 points of their own to take a 52-26 lead into the final quarter.
Pieffer connected on a 28-yard field goal, and Bell busted through the Greyhounds D to score on a 28-yard run.
One thing that Rock River has found out the last three games in the UIF is that no fourth-quarter lead is safe.
Ohio Valley out-scored Rock River 22-3 to cut the Raptors lead to the final margin of 55-48.
Pieffers 15-yard field goal with 8:07 left in the game marked the final points scored by the Raptors.
Sankey ended the night completing 11 out of 18 passes for 90 yards and four touchdown passes.
McArdle caught four of those passes for 59 yards. Thompson caught four passes for 15 yards.
Bell ended the night with 56 yards on 12 carries and two touchdowns. Bell had a fantastic night returning kicks as he returned three kicks for 115 yards. Cook also returned three kicks for 79 yards.
Kohn completed 26 of 47 passes for 236 yards and six touchdown passes. Austin was his favorite target as he hauled in 12 passes for 116 yards and three touchdowns.
From the July 12-18, 2006, issue