Traverse City Record-Eagle

August 31, 2009

Racine hands Wolves first loss

Hall throws for three scores in Racine win


RACINE, Wis. -- Brett Hall threw for 213 yards and three touchdowns Saturday night as the Racine Raiders handed the Traverse City Wolves their first North American Football League loss, 43-6.

The Raiders improved to 8-1. The Wolves dropped to 5-1.

"They were the bigger, better team Saturday night," Wolves coach/owner Daniel Skibbe said.

"It's only one loss," he added. "We're still 5-1. We still have a realistic chance at winning our division, and hosting a playoff game."

The Wolves struggled offensively, finishing with 114 yards in total offense. Traverse City held Racine to 76 yards on the ground, almost 150 yards below the Raiders' average. Hall, however, came up big.

"He's a new quarterback," Skibbe said. "This was his third game and we didn't have much film to look at."

In fact, Skibbe said the video streams of all the previous Wolves games, available on the team's Web site, may have cost them.

"I thought we were at a big disadvantage," Skibbe said. "They had five weeks of film on us to look at. They knew what we were doing before we even knew. They were a step ahead of us.

"On the other hand, we didn't have much of anything on them."

The Raiders built a 29-0 lead at half. Bryan Jennings scooted 13 yards for Racine's first score. Linebacker James Cichon then forced a fumble that Phil Despopoulo returned 16 yards for a touchdown. Hall connected with Sam D'Alie on his first scoring pass to make it 21-0. Then, following a safety, Hall fired a 32-yard strike to Dorian Palmer for six points.

The Wolves scored their lone touchdown in the second half when D.J. Szymoniak scampered 10 yards.

The Raiders came right back, though, as Hall hit D'Alie from 55 yards out. Defensive back Torie Ruffin returned an interception 85 yards for the final touchdown.

Wolves quarterback Will Moran was 6 of 16 passing for 99 yards. Nick Carlson had two catches for 52 yards. Szymoniak led the ground game with 60 yards on 15 carries.

Defensively, Brandon Anderson was in on 10 tackles and Joe Badgley and Tyler Alpers nine apiece.

"It was a good learning experience for us," Skibbe said.

The Wolves will now play London (Ontario) two weeks in a row. Next weekend's game will be in London. The Silverbacks will make the return trip here for a 7 p.m. game Sept. 12.

It will be Military Night for that game. Those who show a military ID at the gate will get in for $6.