WESTBROOK, Minnesota (STPNS) -- WWG ó The last two seasons the Chargers have met the Fulda Raiders in the 11-man playoffs, losing both contests. This year the Raiders were admitted to the Southern Confederacy Conference along with Southwest United and Mountain Lake Area.
The Chargers had little trouble earlier in the season when they defeated the Raiders handily by a score of 48-16. But when playoffs come around you can throw the past out of the window.
The Chargers played a field position game with the Raiders for the entire first quarter. On their first series a Raider player returned the kickoff 24 yards to their own 28 yard line. After allowing the Raiders to get to the fifty yard line, the Charger defense forced a punt after the Raiders recovered a bad snap back on their own 31.
The Chargers took over at their own 40 but after picking up a first down the drive stalled out and the Chargers were forced to punt. The Raiders got the ball back after blocking Dana Madson"s punt which rolled down to the 20 of the Chargers. But the Charger defense arose to the occasion stopping the Raiders cold, forcing the ball over on downs. The Chargers behind the running of Madson picked up a first down, but it was called back on a major penalty taking them back to their own 20. A play later the Chargers were forced to punt again.
The Raiders took over on the Chargers 45, but the Charger defense held the Raiders to three short gains forcing another punt. Andy Merrick received the punt around the 18 yard line and returned it to the 32 giving the Chargers good field position. The drive continued and the Chargers appeared to be picking up momentum when the Raiders picked off a John Elzenga pass returning it inside the Chargers ten yard line as the quarter came to a close. Two plays later Raider Zach Holt snagged a pass scoring from eight yards out. The two point conversion attempt was good and the Raiders took the lead 8-0.
After swapping series with both defenses holding their opponents, the Chargers put together a nice 11 play drive to score. Merrick took the Raiderís kickoff and returned it 34 yards to the Chargers 47 yard line. Merrick then carried for an 8 yard pickup, and Elzenga picked up a first down on a keeper. A couple plays later Elzenga connected with Levi Bunting for a 17 yard gain to the Raiders 20. Madson took charge carrying the next three plays scoring from 4 yards out. Madson also tacked on the two point conversion knotting the game at 8-8.
On the next possession the Raiders marched the ball down the field on two big pass plays, then on third down they connected again on a pass inside the Chargers ten. But then Tristan Joel stopped the drive picking off a pass at the three yard line and returning it 49 yards to the Raiders 48 yard line. But with the clock winding down the Chargers were only able to get inside the Raiders 40 as the half came to a close.
The third quarter was scoreless with neither team able to cross the goal line. The Chargers started the quarter with a nice drive moving inside the 30 of the Raiders. Two plays later the Raiders picked off an Elzenga pass at their own 25 returning it to their own 35. The Raiders managed one first down before the Chargers stopped them and forced a punt.
The short punt went out of bounds at the Chargers 37 yard line where they took over. The Chargers then put together a nice drive behind the running of Madson and Merrick and the passing duo of Elzenga and Shane Buchman. On the final play of the quarter Merrick ran 14 yards to the Charger one yard line as the quarter ended. Two plays later Madson dived into the end zone for the score. Elzenga then threw a strike to Bunting for the two point conversion putting the Chargers ahead 16-8.
On their next series the Raiders came roaring back scoring on a 10 yard run. Charger Joel stopped the two point conversion picking off the pass, but they closed the gap to 16-14.
On the Chargers next possession Matt Otto returned the kick 8 yards to their own 38. Then Merrick ripped off a 28 yard run to the 34 of the Raiders. But the drive stalled out at the 28 of the Raiders where they took over on downs.
The Raiders put together a 14 play drive with Holt scoring on a 9 yard run with 3:08 to play. The Chargers stopped the two point conversion but the Raiders took over the lead 20-16.
The Chargers made things exciting after taking over on downs with just over a minute to play Elzenga threw a 19 yard pass to Bunting and later connected again on a 37 yard bomb down to the Raiders 14 where Elzenga spiked the ball with just a few seconds to play. With 4 seconds on the clock, two Raiders hit receiver Aaron Hass from both sides just before the ball got to him keeping him from making the catch as the clock ran out.
Passing: Elzenga completed 10 of 21 for 119 yards 1 XP, and 2 interceptions.
Receiving: Bunting had 6 catches for 80 yards; Buchman had 4 catches for 40 yards.
Rushing: Madson had 27 carries for 115 yards and two TDís; Merrick picked up 92 yards on 17 carries.
Punting: Madson had 1 punt for 30 yards.
Punt returns: Merrick had 3 for 52 yards.
Kickoff returns: Matt Otto had 2 for 16 yards.
Defense: Madson had 15 tackles and 2 sacks; Merrick had 9 tackles; Bunting had 7 tackles; Joel had 6 tackles and 2 interceptions; Logan Weis and Matt Otto each had 5 tackles; Buchman had 3 tackles and 2 sacks.
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