Louisiana Swashbucklers receiver Jordan Rideaux pulls in a long touchdown pass against the Richmond Raiders. (Rick Hickman / American Press)
Last Modified: Monday, May 20, 2013 1:31 PMGo big or go home.
Actually, the Swashbucklers went big on their return home.
Louisiana gave the ball to beefy back Tenise Eulese with the game, and likely its season, on the line.
At 6-foot and 320 pounds, and with the number 92 on his jersey, Eulese looks nothing like your typical running back.
Yet Saturday night he was the man the Bucs turned to in their time of desperation.
Eulese plowed his way 8 yards for the tying score in the second overtime and then played an even tougher role for somebody his size, that of decoy.
On the mandatory 2-point conversion try, Swashbucklers quarterback Chris Mitchell faked the ball to Eulese and then kept it while racing around right end and into the end zoned.
The end result was a 68-66 double-overtime victory for the Bucs over Richmond, which entered the game tied for the league lead. It was the Louisiana’s fourth win in five games after starting the season 0-3 at home.
For Eulese it was his second rushing TD of the night. He also scored on a 1-yard run in the second quarter.
Eulese carried the ball seven times for 22 yards, proving he is not just a gimmick when he lines up in the backfield.
Thanks to his work, the Swashbucklers (4-4) are clearly back in the playoff race after their win over the Raiders in the Lake Charles Civic Center. They can even dream of winning the regular-season title if everything were to break right.
It did last night for the Bucs, who rallied from 45-32 deficit late in the third quarter to pick up the win in their first game back home in almost a month. The Contraband festival had forced them to play three consecutive weeks on the road.
The Bucs enjoyed it so much that they decided to play a little extra against the Raiders (5-3).
Richmond had taken the lead in the second overtime when quarterback Warren Smith hit Herb Jones with a 13-yard touchdown pass, the second time in OT the two had hooked up. But the trick 2-point conversion try was intercepted by Bucs defensive back Damian Huren in the end zone.
The Bucs got the ball first in overtime, but two quick incomplete passes had them facing third-and-10. But Jordan Rideaux bailed them out when he turned a short pass into a touchdown with a nifty run following a short catch.
Rideaux finished with 105 yards on five catches, including a 40-yard scoring grab in the first quarter.
Mitchell was effective as well. He ended 19 of 34 for 246 yards and five TD passes. He also ran for a pair of scores.
Richmond responded in the first OT when Smith hit Jones from 10 yards out to send the game into a second overtime.
Smith was almost unstoppable. He ended the night 32-for-46 for 365 yards and seven touchdowns. He also ran for a score as well.
Jones had five of those scoring grabs, collecting 12 catches in all for 94 yards. Hakeem Moore added 10 grabs for 148 and a score.
The Bucs had a chance to win the game in regulation, but Ernesto Lacayo’s 43-yard field goal try sailed to the right. It was his third long miss of the night. He also misfired on kicks of 44 and 50 yards, making a 31-yarder in the third quarter. He also had an uno on a kickoff.
Richmond tied the score with 25 seconds left when Smith scored on a 1-yard run and then hit lineman Brandon Grier for the 2-point conversion. Smith was being dragged down on the play when he lofted the ball to the beefy Grier, who fumbled it around before grabbing a hold of it.
The Raiders seemed to be in complete control when they took a 45-32 lead with 4 minutes left in the third on T.C. Stevens 20-yard field goal. But that only woke up the Bucs, who scored the next 21 points.
Sammy Knight’s grab in the back of the end zone while being pushed out of play highlighted the comeback. Knight’s grab was good for 29 yards, as he fell over the back wall while hauling it in.
That play gave the Bucs a 46-45 lead, their first since midway though the second quarter. Mitchell’s 1-yard run with 2:22 left made it 53-45 and set up the wild ending in both regulation and the overtimes.
The Bucs will play their final home game of the season next week when the other first place team heading into the weekend comes calling. Alabama will be at the Civic Center for a 7 p.m. game.
Louisiana will finish the season with three road games, including return trips to both Richmond and Alabama. If the Bucs are able to win out, they would likely be the regular-season champs.
For now, though, the Bucs are just happy to be back in the playoff race.