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Trio Lifts Raiders, Chances : Pro football: Kors, Jordan and Hobbs stand out but now await the word after thrilling 24-23 victory over Oilers.

August 28, 1994|STEVE SPRINGER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

HOUSTON — One last chance to make an impression. One last game to make an impact. One last day to change some minds.

For the secure veterans, Saturday's exhibition finale between the Raiders and Houston Oilers was a necessary evil, a hazard to be avoided, if at all possible, to stay injury free before the regular season.

But not for R.J. Kors.

Or Charles Jordan.

Or Daryl Hobbs.

All three of those Raiders are either still trying to make the team or trying to secure a better spot on the depth chart.

And, with today's final cuts, all three made their case Saturday by playing key roles in a thrilling 24-23 victory in the Astrodome before a crowd of 40,635.

Most early predictions include the Raiders as Super Bowl contenders. And they did nothing to hurt that opinion by winning four of five exhibitions, the best they've done since compiling the same mark in 1990, the last year the Raiders reached the AFC championship game.

But most of the players expected to play key roles this season had little or nothing to do with Saturday's game.

Coach Art Shell hated the thought of losing a valuable starter a week before the regular season, especially on the artificial turf of the Astrodome.

So he gave quarterback Jeff Hostetler the day off. And he didn't play banged-up veterans such as defensive lineman Chester McGlockton (bruised leg) and defensive back Lionel Washington (hamstring).

Instead, Shell turned this game over to his younger players and he stuck with them when his team needed a late rally.

The Raiders' first-half offense had consisted of three field goals by Jeff Jaeger. Jaeger connected from 20, 42 and 38 yards, allowing him to finish the exhibition season with 10 field goals in 11 tries.

Houston (2-3) stayed even in the first 30 minutes. The Oilers scored a touchdown when defensive lineman Lamar Lathon hit quarterback Vince Evans, causing the ball to pop up in the air. It came down in the arms of Eddie Robinson. With a clear field in front of him, the Houston linebacker ran 40 yards to the end zone. Al Del Greco's 43-yard field goal tied the score.

Enter Kors.

For the former Long Beach State defensive back, merely playing was an accomplishment, considering he was cut from the squad four days ago.

But he was signed to a Raider contract for the third time this summer on Wednesday night, back at practice Thursday and in the right spot Saturday when Houston quarterback Sean Salisbury overthrew intended receiver Spencer Tillman on the Oilers' first drive of the third quarter.

The ball sailed into the hands of Kors, usually a safety but playing cornerback on Saturday, and he sailed into the end zone 38 yards away untouched.

Does Kors think that play helped him avoid today's cuts?

"You can't worry about that," he said. "If you worry about that, you'll get an ulcer. I'm just trying to create a future for myself by making plays."

Two field goals by Del Greco, from 46 and 40 yards, followed by a three-yard touchdown pass from Bucky Richardson to John Henry Mills and a two-point conversion run by Le'Shai Maston put Houston back on top, 23-16.

But on the Raiders' last possession, third-string quarterback Billy Joe Hobert, who played three quarters Saturday, drove his team 66 yards to victory.

It came down to third and 10 at the Oiler 15-yard line with 38 seconds to play.

Hobert, who completed 10 of 24 passes for 191 yards, raced around in the backfield, spotted Jordan in the end zone and let the ball fly.

Too short.

No matter. With defensive back Blaine Bishop in his way, Jordan, a product of Long Beach City College, leaped over Bishop's left shoulder, caught the ball, flipped head over heels and came down in the end zone, still clutching his prize.

Tying conversion kick?

Not for Shell.

"We didn't want to keep playing," he said. "We were going to roll the dice and go home."

This time Hobert rolled right and found Hobbs, who dived and came up with the winning catch.

"That's the way to end," said Hobbs.

Especially if you're a young player trying to get started.

Raider Notes

Raider defensive backs Derrick Hoskins and James Trapp suffered knee injuries, but both left the field under their own power and neither is thought to be seriously hurt.

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