By: Matthew Hester
Professional Indoor Football League
HUNTSVILLE, AL – Following their 70-44 victory over the Richmond Raiders on Monday night, the Professional Indoor Football League’s (PIFL) Championship Cup belongs to the Alabama Hammers.
Falling behind just once all evening, the Alabama Hammers led behind a seven touchdown passing performance from quarterback and game MVP Russell Hill continued their dominance over the Richmond completing a three-game sweep combining to outscore the Raiders 180-96. Featuring an aerial assault that completed five passes of 25-yards or more, Hill threw touchdowns on each of the Hammers first four possessions helping him earn the PIFL Championship MVP nod.
Unanimous All-PIFL 1st Team selection WR Mico McSwain continued his MVP-caliber 2013 season hauling in another four touchdowns while receiving mate Larry Shipp was also the beneficiary of a huge passing night towing in three touchdowns including a game-high 143 receiving yards.
For the Raiders the season ends once again in heartbreaking fashion losing for the second consecutive season in the PIFL Championship Game. Unlike last season’s finale, the Raiders were unable to overcome the turnover bug turning the ball over four times including two interceptions returned for TD’s, one by LB Jeremy Grier and the other by DB Charles McClain. DB Travis Blanchard and DB Cortez Stubbs came up with the other two picks.
Despite managing to get the Raiders within six points of the Hammers twice, QB Warren Smith struggles versus the Hammers defense continued. In three games vs. Alabama Smith has combined to throw 12 interceptions while getting sacked 13 times, including twice tonight.
Mid-way in the 2nd quarter the Raiders had their chance to bite into the 21-15 deficit but we’re unable to collect on two potential turnovers first failing to recover a botched snap on a center-to-exchange from the Hammers and the second letting a Kevin Allen interception slip through their fingers due to an illegal defense penalty that negated the turnover. Those unlucky breaks allowed Alabama to score 21 consecutive points to close out the first half taking a 42-15 lead into the break.
Monday’s 70 points were the most surrendered all-season by the Raiders defense who found little room for error considering they didn’t come up with their first defensive stop until the start of the 4th quarter when DB RoShawn Marshall scored on a 25-yard strip and scoop fumble recovery.
From losing their starting QB to a season-ending injury and to at one point playing in three consecutive overtime games, behind 2012 Coach of the Year James Fuller the Richmond Raiders tackled lots of adversity this season but managed to earn a berth in their second consecutive PIFL Championship Game. Over a two-year span, the Raiders are tied with the Albany Panthers with the best overall regular-season winning percentage in the PIFL (17-7) as well as one of the best home-records in that time period going 13-1.
For Alabama, Monday’s victory is the culmination of a complete turnaround for a franchise that combined to have just six win’s entering the 2013 season. Led by Head Coach Dean Cokinos, the Hammers earned their first-ever playoff berth ending the 2013 regular-season with the best regular-season and now another banner will hang from the rafters of the Von Braun Center honoring their championship win on Monday.
The PIFL thanks all their fans and members teams for a great 2013 season and look forward to once again bringing their fans all the hard-hitting action that is indoor football. Be sure to stay logged on to www.proifl.com for the post-season player awards as well as upcoming news on expansion teams for the 2014 season.