Smoke billowed from grills at tailgates, the smell of hamburgers and hot dogs lingered in the air.
Fans clad in purple lined Laney-Walker Boulevard and filled the stands of Lucy C. Laney Memorial Stadium.
After 51 years, Paine College football returned Saturday.
“It’s a culmination of a long journey,” Paine athletic director Tim Duncan said. “Two years ago, we started with the feasibility study to see if football could work at Paine College, and now we have today the first game. It’s very gratifying.”
Saturday marked Paine’s first football game since 1962. The return of a college football team in Augusta sparked excitement from fans as they entered the stadium.
Paine’s defense kept the Lions in the game throughout, but Georgia Prep Sports Academy pulled away late for a 20-13 win.
Before the game, the inaugural Lion Walk stretched from 15th Street down Laney-Walker to Laney’s football stadium. Parents walked the sidewalks, telling others which number their son wears.
Freshman quarterback Marquez Gilmore received a hug and kiss from his mother as he walked by, drawing applause.
“I think it’s a powerful moment,” Duncan said. “It kind of symbolizes the journey, literally, from Paine to Laney where we’re playing. I think it definitely hyped up the crowd and got the team ready to go.”