If anyone had any doubts about rookie Racine Raiders quarterback Craig McClelland, they were erased in the Raiders 49-24 victory over the Lake Geneva Generals Saturday night at Historic Horlick Athletic Field in Racine, Wis., in front of over 1,700 fans.
McClelland passed for 316 yards and five touchdowns in the Raiders blowout victory over the 2011 Northwest Division champions. The Raiders improved to 2-1 on the season and 1-0 in the Mid-States Football League (MSFL). The Generals fell to 2-2 overall and 0-1 in the MSFL.
The game was a hotly contested one much of the way but the Raiders defense held the Generals to just a field goal in the second half.
Racine struck first on the opening drive of the game. McClelland hit Will Norwood streaking down the right numbers for a 38-yard touchdown. Joel DaPra added the extra point and the Raiders led 7-0 just four minutes into the game.
The Generals would strike back late in the first quarter on a 67-yard touchdown pass from David Byerley to Ricardo Williams who got past two Raiders defenders. Jordan Brown added the extra point and the game was tied at seven.
Lake Geneva took their only lead of the game just three minutes later on another strike from Byerley to Williams, this time from 34 yards out. The Brown extra point was good and the Generals led with 13:47 to play in the half. Williams had to be carried off the field after the play, after injuring himself while celebrating the touchdown catch.
The Raiders evened the score on a 39-yard touchdown pass from McClelland to Sam D'Alie with 8:19 to play in the first half. McClelland and D'Alie hooked up again with just under two minutes to play in the half, this time for 18 yards and a score, giving the Raiders a 21-14 lead.
The Raiders defense held the Generals to a three-and-out on their next possession forcing them to punt. The Brown punt was fielded by Damonshaw Pitt, playing in his first game with the Raiders, and he returned it 68 yards for a touchdown. The DaPra kick gave the Raiders a 28-14 lead with just over a minute to play in the half.
The Generals broke a huge kick return to the Raiders 13-yard line. Trevor York ran it into the endzone from there and the Generals trailed 28-21 with 51 seconds to play in the first half.
The Raiders followed suit and got a big kick return to the Generals 35-yard line on the ensuing kickoff. They eventually settled for a 40-yard DaPra field goal attempt which sailed wide left. The Raiders went into the half with a 28-21 lead.
Both defenses held for much of the third quarter. The Raiders finally scored with 4:05 to play in the quarter on a 32-yard touchdown pass from McClelland to Terrence Fitch. The DaPra extra point gave the Raiders a 35-21 lead.
The Generals drove into Raiders territory on the next drive but could only muster a Brown 40-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 35-24 with 13:49 to play in the game.
After that, it was all Raiders. J.R. Taylor broke a 35-yard run after breaking a tackle at the line of scrimmage for a touchdown, the only ground score of the game for Racine. The DaPra point-after gave the Raiders a 42-24 lead.
The Raiders would get the final score of the game with 5:07 to play on McClelland's fifth touchdown pass of the game, an 11-yard play to Dorian Palmer. The DaPra extra point was good and the Raiders would march to a 49-24 victory.
Taylor ran for 120 yards on 13 carries in the game while Palmer led all receivers with five catches for 122 yards. On defense, Larry Walker, starting for the injured Brandon Hendrickson, led the way with nine tackles. Michael Leeman recorded seven tackles and Jaran Rutlege and Nate Harris each had six tackles.
The Raiders hit the road for the next two weeks, first traveling to Madison to play the Dane County Hawks this Saturday night. The game begins at 7:00 p.m. and will be carried live on WRJN 1400 AM with the pregame show beginning at 6:50 p.m.
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PHOTO CREDITS: Dennis Borkhus-Veto