It may not have been as pretty as the previous three, but the Baltimore Mariners got the job done against the Richmond Raiders on Sunday evening at the 1st Mariner Arena.
After cruising through the Fayetteville Guard, Baltimore came up against a solid defense from Richmond that continually pressured quarterback E.J. Nemeth and defended Mariner wide receivers up and down the arena. “We’ll continue to fine tune our pass protection,” Head Coach Chris Simpson said. “Our receivers have got to be a little bit more physical in their routes, I think they got pushed around a little bit.”
The Mariners started strong, but Richmond hung tough during the first half. J.R. Cipra missed two field goals, one right before the half and the Raiders cut the lead to just three points, 27-24, when the teams ran into the locker room after the second quarter.
But the Mariners hung tough and found ways to score when the offense was limited by the Raiders D. After Richmond took the lead 31-30, Richard Johnson returned a missed field goal by Jared Brown for a touchdown giving Baltimore a 37-31 lead. Then J.R. Cipra hit the uno and the Mariners went up 7.
Brown tied the game at 38 points with 11:18 left when he caught a touchdown reception on the Mariners defense. But not even that stopped the Mariners.
After exchanging touchdown runs, E.J. Nemeth led his offense down field with nine minutes left to set up for J.R. Cipra’s 40 yard field goal that put Baltimore on top 48-45. Cipra hit the uno on the kickoff and put Baltimore up four points, eliminating the game tying field goal opportunity.
“Getting the uno, not only did it put us up, but it helped out our defense,” Cipra said. “That just fired us up.” Cipra finished the game with 19 points.
Richmond was able to march downfield and ended up on the goal line with a minute to go, but was unable to convert and turned the ball over on downs to the Mariners.
“It comes down to heart and character and who wants it most and fortunately our defense wanted it more than their offense,” Chris Simpson said.
Baltimore has a bye this week before hitting taking their first place record on the road the next three weeks.