RACINE — Despite circumstances that strongly suggest otherwise, it wouldn’t be a stretch to call this one a feel-good story. And it goes well beyond the moving military tribute at halftime.
Yes, the Racine Raiders overwhelmed the Chicago Falcons 55-0 in a non-league game at Horlick Field on a chilly, windy Saturday night before a season-high crowd of 932. And, yes, there was a running clock starting the second quarter, when the Raiders had already taken a 41-0 lead.
But the Raiders, starting with head coach Wilbert Kennedy, were genuinely appreciative that the Falcons traveled to Racine on short notice. After the Dayton Hornets, the Raiders’ scheduled opponent, broke their commitment to come to Racine Tuesday, a scramble ensued to find a replacement.
The Falcons stepped up late Wednesday night, after the Raiders were down to their two last options. And even though they traveled to Racine with just 21 players and were severely outmatched from the start, Kennedy couldn’t help but express his admiration.
“I just really appreciate those guys coming on short notice,” Kennedy said. “It just shows a lot of their character. They’ve bailed us out in the past. That’s what I respect about this organization. They’re ready to go any time, any place. It doesn’t really matter.
“I’m glad that they came up and gave the fans a game — and on an important night like this where you’re honoring the forces.”
Falcons coach-owner Tom Robinson said he had hoped to bring at least 32 players Saturday, but that there were a number of no-shows. When some of his players were injured in the first quarter, he asked the officials about a continuously running clock. Kennedy immediately agreed to that.
And after a 63-minute first quarter, during which the Raiders scored almost at will, the game was over by 9:15.
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“I was a little disappointed with the number of players I had,” Robinson said. “I assumed I was going to have at least 32 ballplayers. I’ve got a real young team — I’ve got 35 rookies and first-year ballplayers — and they don’t travel well. (Racine) is not that far from us — about an hour and a half — but they didn’t understand that.”
Howard Triplett started the onslaught 20 seconds into the game with a 25-yard touchdown run. Two minutes later, Jeremy Bland added a 25-yard TD run of his own.
By the end of the quarter, Troy Collier (22 yards) and Triplett (28 yards) scored on touchdown runs, Mitchell Farr flipped a 1-yard TD toss to Nick Nelson and Davonte Ransom had a pick-six.
The Raiders’ other touchdowns came on a 14-yard run by Farr in the second quarter and the return of a fumble recovery by Jordan Scott.
When asked what value the Raiders were able to get out of a game like this, Scott didn’t hesitate.
“It’s good for us to get out here and work on things we have to tighten up and fix some of the issues we’re having,” the linebacker said. “We’re not playing perfect football, but we’re getting there. We’re working on the things we can work on.
“And we wanted to get people in where they can get experience so in future games, they’re ready to go.”
The Raiders (5-0) finished with 172 yards on 22 plays while the Falcons (0-5) had just 18 yards on 33 plays. Leading the way for the Raiders was Triplett, who churned for 92 yards on just five carries.
After breezing to this victory, the Raiders resume Mid-States Football League play with a 7 p.m. game against the Fox Valley Force at Horlick Field. The Raiders expect to be ready.
“It was a good opportunity just for us to be able to get a game in and work on some of the the things we needed to work on — offense, defense and special teams,” wide receiver Jordan Payne said. “Last week, we didn’t have the performance we wanted, so getting that bad taste out of our mouths was good.”
Added wide receiver Lawerance Peters, “It’s Raiders tradition being here on Fourth of July weekend. It’s something they’ve been doing for years. This just keeps the tradition going.”