East Penn Raiders win big on the road with a 24-21 victory against the Syracuse Strong

by Michael Keefer

3 Hours and Fifteen minutes.

That’s the length of the ride from Allentown, PA to Syracuse, NY.

It’s also just slightly longer than it took for the East Penn Raiders team to come alive in this weekends match up against the perennial semi-pro powerhouse, Syracuse Strong for whom have not lost a game in 3 years. When the team did wake up though, they made it count.

The East Penn Raiders (1-0) fell behind early to the Syracuse Strong (1-1) following some crisp passing execution and timely special teams plays. When the dust settled, EPR was looking up at a quick 14-0 deficit. A solid drive and a field goal later, the Raiders were looking at a 14-3 score at halftime.

Unfortunately, the EPR offense came out of halftime with some more rust. The mistakes mounted and culminated with a Syracuse Strong scoop and score. 21-3. In the world of semi-pro football, this is one of those make or break moments. A team can take this as an opportunity to lay down and start looking forward to next week, or they can buckle that chinstrap and look to make a moment happen. Luckily for us here, in the maroon, black, and white, that moment happened.

When the clock struck the start of the fourth quarter, a new EPR was unleashed. It started with QB, Andrew Shoop, rolling to his left and finding WR, Jordan Hallman, for a long touchdown down the sideline. 21-10. A sense of hope began to take over the team. That hope solidified as RB, David Ogbonnaya scooped a blocked field goal and rumbled 84 yards with a convoy of Raiders to tighten the game further. 21-16.

With the game getting closer and closer, the Raiders could sense the momentum flip. Turnovers were at a premium in the game, and the Raiders pounced again. Javonte Haynes, DB, jumped a route and snatched the ball back for his squad.

A methodical drive downfield followed, culminating in Shoop finding Evan Morrill, WR, in the back of the end zone for a toe tap touchdown grab. With a nicely designed reverse field throwback to follow, the Raiders now had completed a furious fourth quarter comeback to take the lead at 24-21.

A last chance effort from the Strong fell short and ended with another interception for the Raiders defense. The victory was preserved and the Raiders hopped back on their bus with a 1-0 record to kick off their 2021 campaign.

The Raiders will look to continue that momentum again next week as they head to take on the Cataract Wolverines.