Landover,MD-The Racine Raiders scored ten unanswered points in the fourth quarter to beat the West Sound (WA) Rebels, 27-18, in the Gridiron Developmental Football League's Gridiron Bowl XIV national championship game in Landover, Md. on Saturday night. Raiders quarterback Andre Locke was named the game's most valuable player after rushing for two touchdowns and passing for a third. Locke completed passes to nine different receivers. He finished the game 18-of-28 passing for 236 yards and rushed eight times for 34 yards.
The Raiders claimed the team's 10th national title and first since 2014. Racine finished the season 15-0, the first undefeated season since 2014, and collected franchise win 667. The ten national titles and 667 wins are the most of any minor league football team in history. The Raiders defeated seven previously unbeaten teams and had wins over teams representing 11 different states plus the District of Columbia. The livestream of the game had over 5,000 live viewers and several Racine bars held viewing parties with the official viewing party at Angry Brothers Pub and Grill hosting well over 100 fans. The team returns to Historic Horlick Athletic Field tonight and invite fans to come and greet the players, coaches, and volunteers. The bus is estimated to arrive between 8 pm and 9 pm. Championship apparel should be available online later this week.
Corey Dalton returned the game's opening kickoff 47 yards and the Raiders would go 48 yards on just three plays to take a 7-0 lead on the first drive of the game. West Sound would pull to within one midway through the second quarter on a 35-yard pass from Jacob Taase to Kofi Goseer, Jr. The two-point conversion attempt failed, leaving Racine with the lead.
The Raiders went on a 15-play drive that went 88 yards but Locke fumbled at the goal line and West Sound recovered. Racine held them to a three-and-out. The Raiders took the lead back on a 36-yard field goal by Alex Gonzalez to claim a 10-6 lead with 2:44 to play in the first half. West Sound responded right back scoring on a 20-yard pass from Taase to Amonte Phillips that was tipped in the end zone by Dalton before Phillips hauled it in along the sideline and managed to get both feet down. The two-point conversion pass failed again bit West Sound went into the half leading Racine 12-10. It was just the second time this season Racine trailed at halftime.West Sound marched down the field on the opening drive of the second half, getting to the Racine 13-yard line. Raiders linebacker Justin Benko intercepted a Taase pass on fourth down in the end zone giving Racine back the ball. The Raiders would go 72 yards, culminating with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Locke to Will Norwood with 6:25 to play in the quarter. Gonzalez added the extra point to give Racine a 17-12 lead.
Taase connected with Goseer on a 52-yard touchdown on the Rebels next drive. The two-point pass attempt was intercepted giving West Sound an 18-17 lead with 4:24 to play in the third quarter. The Raiders would start the fourth quarter with the football and had a nearly seven-minute drive stall at the West Sound 11-yard line. Gonzalez booted a 28-yard field goal to give Racine a 20-18 lead with 7:14 left in the game.
West Sound went for it on fourth down deep in their own territory on the next drive and failed to convert. Racine took over at the West Sound 28-yard line. Locke misfired on a second down play but was hit late by Vikah Lefau setting the Raiders up with a first down at the Rebels 14-yard line. Locke connected with tight end Dillon Flores and Flores stretched for the goal line but came up short. Locke would take it in from a yard out on the next play and Gonzalez added the extra point to give Racine a two possession lead at 27-18 with 2:58 to play.
West Sound moved the ball effortlessly down the field on the next drive getting to the Racine 10-yard line. On fourth down, Taase stepped up in the pocket as he saw a lane open up but it was quickly closed by former UW-Whitewater standouts Niko Lemke and Anton Graham. Lemke was able to bring Taase down for no gain to give the ball back to Racine to run out the clock with less than 30 seconds to play.
Lemke totaled six tackles, three tackles for loss, and three sacks in the game for Racine as he was disruptive all game. Former Racine All-County football player Joe Garcia was Locke's favorite target catching six passes for 86 yards.