Derailed again - Red Dogs fetch win at Lacrosse

05/14/03 Jason Christopherson

Their trip to La Crosse reported to be in question due to financial problems, the Rapid City Red Dogs at least made the journey worth their while.  Rapid City improved to 5-3 overall with a 33-29 win over the Night Train last Saturday night. 

Once again the Night Train started off like a bullet, opening a 14-0 lead after the first quarter.  Sean Hoolihan made his first start with La Crosse and went 4-6 for 56 yards and a touchdown in the opening quarter.  A beautiful touch pass down the left sideline was good for 29 yards to Larry Henderson (back after a one week absence) to set up the second touchdown of the game, a fade route to Ryan Hinske.  The Red Dogs closed the gap to 14-9 late in the second quarter, but Hoolihan called his own number and scampered 24 yards for a touchdown with about two minutes left in the half.  The turning point of the game was the result of a questionable spot by a new officiating crew.  On third and goal from the one yard line, Hoolihan fumbled a snap—his second of the game—but picked it up and appeared to easily be in the end zone.  The official didn’t see it that way and marked the ball on the one.  An irate Larry Henderson drew an eight yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, and Brett Gorden missed the resulting 25-yard field goal.  An Aaron Turner field goal at the buzzer on the subsequent drive made the halftime score 21-12. 

The Night Train appeared flat in the second half.  The running game, as it has been since Chris Floyd left the team, was almost non-existent.  Take out the 24-yard scramble and the team only gained 34 yards on the ground.  Hoolihan was ineffective through the air as well, though his final statistics (13-22, 143 yards) do not seem to bear that out.  He was hounded all night by an aggressive Red Dog defensive line, led by Almonse Boyles, who had six tackles and three sacks.  The timing routes were disrupted and it seemed like Hoolihan regularly had to check down to his second or third options, usually short routes over the middle.

Three minutes into the second half, Rapid City pulled to within two on a Verna Owens four-yard run.  Owens and Jesse Adams seemed to run at will on the Night Train defense, picking up 110 yards and four touchdowns between them.  The wheels officially came off for the Night Train on the ensuing drive.  A nice Eddie McKennie return brought the ball out to midfield.  But on fourth and inches, Hoolihan dove off the left side and clearly broke the fifteen yard line (his entire body, and ball, ended up across the line).  Again, the official didn’t agree and gave the ball to the Red Dogs on downs.  Pat Hammond and crew, where are you?  We miss you!

Jose Banda made the highlight film with the catch of the year thus far.  Banda ran a crossing route and the throw was behind him.  He reached back to snare the ball with one hand and then dragged two defenders into the end zone for the toughest 14-yard touchdown a player could ever expect to get.  Unfortunately, it was the only score for La Crosse in the second half, while Rapid City rolled out 21.

The loss dropped La Crosse to 3-5, and only 1-3 under new coach Reggie Mathis.  The two teams reunite this week in Rapid City.  Drop me a line at if you go to the game.

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