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It wasn’t pretty. But football is a messy sport.

Last Saturday’s road contest in the Chicago area against the Illinois Cowboys was a Mid-States Football League (MSFL) opener, and the Racine Raiders couldn’t have picked a worse time to turn the football over five times. Luckily, the Cowboys gave the ball away six times and only mustered 129 total yards. And somehow, the Raiders went up 12-0 early in the fourth quarter.

Things then turned in a hurry thanks to a throw Mitch Farr wishes he could have back. After Farr’s 2-yard touchdown pass to Ricardo Williams, who celebrated a birthday Tuesday, the Cowboys picked him off, returning the interception for a touchdown and sparking a 14-0 rally to escape with a 14-12 victory.

Racine is now 2-1 overall and 0-1 in the MSFL, where the Cowboys, Chicago Birdgang and Wisconsin Hitmen are all 1-0.

The Raiders will have a chance to tie up the Hitmen Saturday night at Historic Horlick Field for a 7 p.m. kickoff. Gates open at 5:30 p.m., there will be a bike giveaway and T-shirt toss, and the owners of Georgie Porgies, Peter and Lou Liapis, will be honorary captains. Tickets are priced at $4, $6, $8 and $20 for a family ticket.

Raiders prepare for Hitmen

On the field, Racine Raiders head coach Wilbert Kennedy knows he must prepare his guys for a tough opponent, one that should travel well with a large crowd.

The Hitmen are the Raiders’ only league opponent from Wisconsin and play their home games at Raabe Stadium in Wauwatosa, so the 20-minute drive won’t be a factor. Despite all of the outside noise, Racine must pick up some pieces between the white lines.

“One game doesn’t make a season at this point,” Kennedy said. “We will work harder to clean up mistakes, it’s important to learn from losing, losing teaches you a lot, but what matters is how you apply what you learn and bounce back… We need to have a good night of practice and clean up all the mistakes we made last week.”

Wisconsin opened league play with a 20-6 victory over the Midway Marauders last Saturday, so defense should be the name of this weekend’s game. The question will be whether Farr can settle down and revert back to his form from the first two games when he barely turned the ball over. Based on the Cowboys game, the evidence is there that even if the Raiders play poorly, they’ll figure it out.

Controversy on the field spurns Raiders

Down 14-12 with 30 seconds, controversy did not help Racine. After a Raiders’ goal-line play failed to score, a Cowboys player appeared to lay on the football and ground for 25 seconds, while the officials didn’t stop the clock or throw a flag for delay of game. Finally, they stopped the clock with only 5 seconds left and threw flags for offsetting unsportsmanlike penalties.

The delay forced the Raiders to attempt a game-winning field goal, but it didn’t sail through the uprights.

“The official did nothing about the situation and it cost us another play,” Kennedy said. “The officials can’t lose control of the game at that point. Not much more to say, other than it was only a four-person crew.”

Kennedy said the Raiders had their regular Wednesday practice off three days prior to the game, and unfortunately, it showed.

“I think both defenses played well,” he said. “We just had too many mistakes on offense. We will not take off any more weeks of practice, it definitely showed in this game.”

Game recap shows promise for future matches despite costly mistakes

The Raiders out-gained the Cowboys, 329-129, so everything else was going right minus the costly mistakes. Farr ended up 16-36 for 254 yards and two touchdowns, the other a 64-yard bomb to Will Norwood with 13:50 left in the game to open the scoring for both teams. Norwood, Williams, Joe Garcia and Jersey Eickhorst all gained more than 50 yards receiving, with Norwood’s 78 leading the way on two catches. Howard Triplett was also effective on the ground for the Raiders, totaling 62 yards on 13 carries.

Defensively, Nick Jones paced the attack with six tackles, two for loss, and Jones, DiQuan McRae and Anton Graham each tallied more than 1 tackle for loss.

Though the Cowboys didn’t do much on offense, they were able to move the ball on the ground. Darrell King led all rushers with 83 yards on 11 carries, and Jerome Laseter’s 4-yard run for a touchdown with 1:55 proved to be the game-winner.

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