The Richmond Roughriders were coming off of their first victory of the year, two weeks ago as they opened their season against the High Country Grizzlies of Boone North Carolina. With time to prepare the Richmond Roughriders knew they had a tough task at hand as they prepared for the expansion Carolina Energy, coming off of a win themselves against the Triangle Torch the week before.
The night was this past Saturday Night, March 31st, as the Richmond Roughriders hosted their home opener at the Richmond Coliseum in front of over 3,000 screaming fans wanting nothing more than Roughriders victory on opening night.
First though, came the ring ceremony as the Richmond Roughriders celebrated their 2017 last second Championship victory last June as they took down the Florida Tarpons in heroic fashion to win the APF league championship in just their first year of existence. It was a true sight to behold as Richmond Roughriders ownership walked to the field led by Richmond Roughriders Owner & GM Gregg Fornario followed by Michael Kacor and new owner and hip hop recording artist Jim Jones.
After the ceremony local Richmond celebrity anthem singer, Sophia Nadder, graced the crowd with our National Anthem as she has many times before at the Richmond Coliseum, The Diamond, and many other locations in and around the Richmond Virginia area throughout her years.
After an extended ceremony and colors demonstration it was time to kick off as both teams anxiously awaited the start of an already emotional game. The Roughriders won the toss and elected to kick to receive the ball at the beginning of the second half.
Within the first moments of the game one could tell that this would not be like all the other blowouts the Richmond Roughriders had so often dealt opponents, this game seemed closer from the gate. Roughriders new quarterback and VA Tech Star Bryan Randall seemed to struggle early on, not being able to hit targets accurately or failing to make the correct reads. Of course Randall was recently acquired with little preparation for the opening game as the Roughriders had to release Marshall Star Rakeem Cato earlier the previous week for disciplinary problems.
At the end of the first quarter the Roughriders led 8-6 with help from veteran arena kicker TC Stevens who completed the 8 point play, achieving the uno after his successful extra point following a Daniel Lee touchdown catch.
In the second quarter Roughriders receiver #4 Dandiel Lee would find the end zone yet again but this time on the ground, as Lee accepted a hand off by QB Bryan Randall for the 1 yard score. This is where the Roughriders momentum would end in the first half as the Carolina Energy would continue on to score two more times before the half leaving the score 20-16 before the break.
Coming back from very heated locker room talk the Richmond Roughriders would get the ball first to start the half. After a couple early miscues by the new quarterback Randall, he would finally find WR D'Mauri Jones in the corner of the end zone for a well needed Roughriders TD bringing the score to 23-20 Roughriders.
The back and forth game would continue as the Energy would score on the ensuing drive to take back the lead but missed the extra point leading to a score of 26-23 heading into the final remaining moment of the third quarter.
With what seemed to be a new found exuberance the Roughriders came back once again and this time it was the Richmond Roughriders star receiver Rashaad Carter catching a nine yard pass to make it 30-26 after a TC Stevens Extra Point.
The Roughriders and Rashaad Carter would seem not to look back after this first touchdown late in the third quarter as carter would score the next 3 Touchdowns for the Roughriders all on short passes in the redzone from Quarterback Bryan Randall.
After a couple key defensive stops the back and forth affair ended with the Richmond Roughriders on top with the score of 52-38 in the Roughriders first game back since winning the 2017 APF Championship.
Next up the Roughriders will take on the Cape Fear Heroes, a team that is looking good coming off a Championship of their own last year, as they took home the SIF crown defeating the Triangle Torch in their league Championship.