JOHNSTOWN -- Friday night was Roosevelt's senior night and Dallas Nielson took his share, knowing it would be his final chance.
The linebacker came up with the biggest defensive stop of the RoughRiders' 23-20 win over Silver Creek, putting the nail in the Tri-Valley Conference matchup and continuing Roosevelt's undefeated streak in league play.
After trailing for the entire game, the Riders took back control with only four minutes remaining, going in front of the Raptors by three points. It was on Silver Creek's final drive that Nielson came through with flying colors.
As time expired, quarterback Ben Sjobakken scrambled out of the pocket and was looking deep down the field for an open receiver when he was greeted by Nielson's big hit.
"I was just hoping I could get there before he got rid of the ball, and I did," Nielson said. "Once I had that and heard the crowd, it was awesome; I knew we had it from there."
Unlike its season thus far, first-quarter troubles set the tone for Roosevelt's offense early. The RoughRiders opened the game with a three-and-out and two lost fumbles through its first three possessions of the game, allowing the Raptors to jump out to an early lead.
Eric Machmuller was the first to get the Silver Creek offense going with his 13-yard rush for the Raptors' opening touchdown midway through the first quarter. Running back Anthony Kasper followed suit five minutes later from three yards, giving the Raptors the two-possession edge.
"It was then when we really had to look to our defense, who really were the ones who kept us in this game," Roosevelt coach Noland Eastin said. "We made the early mistakes, but it was about overcoming those and how we were going to be able to deal with it."
The Riders were finally able to put together a scoring drive in the second quarter that was topped off with Kane Kratz's 4-yard rush. Lincoln Schultz contributed a 33-yard field goal on the following possession to pull the Riders within four.
Silver Creek tacked on another touchdown just before the half as Machmuller picked up his second on the night from the 16-yard line, putting the Raptors up 20-13 going into halftime.
"We looked at how we were playing in the first half and evaluated it. We came back wanting to do better and made it a point to do so," Eastin said.
The Riders found their groove in the second half, stopping Silver Creek on all six of its second half possessions and forcing a fumble. Roosevelt running back Randy Molinar rushed for two touchdowns in the final half, carrying Roosevelt to its fourth home victory.
"These games are always fun, aren't they?" Eastin said after the game. "We have to give their guys credit as much as we do ours; it was a fight out there tonight."
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RoughRiders 23, Raptors 20
At Roosevelt H.S.
Silver Creek (5-2, 3-1) 14 6 0 0 -- 20
Roosevelt (5-2, 3-0) 0 10 6 7 -- 23
SC -- Eric Machmuller 13 run (Ryan Charles kick), 6:44.
SC -- Anthony Kasper 3 run (Charles kick), 1:48.
R -- Kane Kratz 4 run (Jessica Meek kick), 9:20.
R -- Lincoln Schultz 33 FG, 3:26.
SC -- Machmuller 16 pass from Dan Sjobakken (kick failed), 1:06.
R -- Randy Molinar 7 run (kick failed), :00.
R -- Molinar 9 run (Meek kick), 4:01.