CJ Powell caught a last minute 65-yard touchdown pass to help The Lorain County Nightmares capture a thrilling 28-22 victory tonight over the Ohio Raiders. Down 22-20 in the closing moments, Powell laid out for a catch 10 yards down the field but never went fully down to the ground, as by some miracle, his knees never graced the turf, and he got up and ran the final 55 yards to pay dirt.
To accurately describe the play would be impossible, but the best way to put it is that his body got as low to the ground as possible, without his knee’s touching it.
It was a thrilling last second comeback that erased a disastrous second half in which everything else went wrong for the Nightmares. The play was part of a 4 catch, 92-yard second half from the injured Powell who gritted his way to a huge night. Powell would then catch the two-point conversion moments afterwards.
It was a wild second half that saw a 20-7 Nightmare lead disappear in a matter of a few crazy plays. Down 20-7, the Ohio Raiders had a player suffer a terrible injury, in which caused a 45-minute delay to the game with a little over 5 minutes to play in the third quarter. Once play resumed the Raiders struck on 6-yard touchdown pass and converted the extra point to make it 20-14.
The Nightmares clung to the 20-14 lead until the 9-minute mark of the fourth quarter when a bizarre set of events changed everything. Punter Greg Kovach blasted a beautiful punt that should have given the Raiders the ball at their own 30. Kovach continues to show a monster leg this season. He got roughed up, and the referee missed the call. Instead, calling it as a running into the kicker penalty.
The result was a 5-yard penalty, instead of the 15-yard variety. It became fourth and one on the Nightmare 26 instead of an automatic first down. In a risky move, the Nightmares went for it and got stuffed. Within seconds, the Raiders took advantage and tied the game at 20 with a 9-yard touchdown pass. The ensuing extra point was blocked.
The Nightmares dodged a bullet, but it was only seconds later when they shot themselves in the foot again. This time TJ Howell, who has had a tremendous season made a costly mental mistake. He took the kickoff out of the end zone, after hesitating too many times, and the Raiders wrapped him up at the 5-yard line. The very next snap went over DiMarco’s head out of the end zone and the Raiders got the safety to take their first lead of the game 20-22 with 7:33 to go.
If it wasn’t for the last second catch by Powell, this disastrous play sequence of missed roughing call, failed fourth down play, mishap on the kick return and safety over the head of DiMarco would have easily cost them the game.
The Nightmares forced the Raiders to turn the ball over 4 times in the first half. Those turnovers led to 20 of their 20 points. Those first half touchdowns off turnovers were scored on a 4-yard touchdown run by Ty Howell, and a 6-yard pitch and catch from Brandon DiMarco to Mario Walton. Their other touchdown came on an amazing 98-yard pick six by defensive back Ricky Earl.
The Raiders had a chance to close the 20-7 gap in the final moments of the second quarter, but a great defensive open field tackle by Jamie Adams saved a touchdown. Moments later, the Nightmares blocked a field goal to keep it 20-7 at the break.
Brandon DiMarco finished with 178 yards on 10 of 26 passing. DiMarco had the two touchdown passes and zero interceptions. The Nightmares finish the regular season 6-5 and begin the playoffs in two weeks, on the road against the NEO Predators in Euclid.