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Raiders bag first PFL title

OREGON CITY - The Portland Raiders Minor League football team won their first championship in their 14-year existence, edging the South King County Colts 30-27 here Saturday in the championship final of the Pacific Football League playoffs.

Raiders kicker Matt Evensen split the uprights on a 20-yard field goal attempt with just 15 seconds remaining for the win. The Raiders led 24-7 at halftime, but the Colts dominated the play in the second half.

The scoring began with a 59-yard interception return for a touchdown by Raiders safety Johnathan Simpson.

On the second play of the second quarter, Raiders quarterback and Oregon City High School graduate Russell Schneider threw a 61-yard touchdown pass to Levi Maxwell to make the score 14-0.

An interception by Raiders safety Justin Saldano set up a 52-yard scoring drive that ended with an eight-yard touchdown pass from Schneider to tight end Drew Dukeshire. On the play, Schneider was flushed out of the pocket to his left, stopped, looked right and saw a completely uncovered Dukeshire near the goal line. Dukeshire caught the pass and then ran over a defender to score, making the score 21-0.

A fumbled handoff led to a touchdown drive by the Colts.

The Raiders answered, with a 36-yard field goal by Evensen, making it 24-7 at the intermission.

An onside kick at the start of the second half paid dividends for the Colts, and they scored early in the third period, trimming the Raider lead to 24-14.The Colts forced another fumble and then drove to score again. And just like that, it was a game, with Portland nursing only a 24-21 advantage.

A long, 58-yard pass to the Raiders 3, with 13 minutes remaining, set up a Colt field goal that knotted the score at 24-24.

With the Raiders leading 27-24 late in the fourth quarter, the Colts drove into scoring position and hit another field goal, making it 27-27 with under four minutes remaining.

Armed with no timeouts, the Raiders began their drive with a long pass play down the middle from Schneider to wide receiver Isaiah Smith, who was tackled at the Colts’ 41-yard line. The Raiders then false started on the next play, and then Schneider was sacked for a big loss on the following play to set up a second-down and 25 from the Raiders’ 44. On the following play, Schneider, the most prolific passer in the history of Northwest adult amateur football, used his legs to escape pressure and ran up the middle for an 18-yard gain to set up a critical third down.

From the Colts’ 36, Schneider again evaded pressure, ran up field, juked a linebacker, raced past another defender, and then nearly ran over a safety to get into the end zone before stumbling and being tackled at the Colts’ 3 with 31 seconds remaining.

With the clock running, Schneider set up the offense to spike the ball with 18 seconds remaining. That led to Evensen’s third field goal of the game, giving the Raiders the lead for good, and the league championship victory.



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