Originally created 04/22/00

Stallions win home opener



The Stallions provided the fairy-tale ending to their arenafootball2 home opener.

Augusta overcame a 13-point deficit with a 27-point fourth quarter for a spirited 41-33 win over the Jacksonville Tomcats at the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center on Friday night.

"Coach (Mike Neu) got after us a bit at halftime," Stallions wide receiverdefensive back Brenden Prophett said. "He challenged us to play mistake-free football in the second half and we did."

Jacksonville's Jim Tarle nailed a 52-yard field goal that gave the Tomcats a 27-14 lead early in the fourth quarter.

Soon afterward, Augusta's Aaron Sparrow connected with Chris Siegfried in the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown that pulled the Stallions within 27-21 with 11:33 remaining.

Later in the quarter, Sparrow engineered a four-play, 4:07 drive. Sparrow hit a wide-open Clarence Williams on a 5-yard pass play to give the Stallions a 28-27 lead.

On the kickoff, Chris Chambers' kick bounced off the net, off the turf and danced around in mid-air. Augusta' Calvin Ceaser grabbed the ball, outwrestled a defender and ran into the end zone for the touchdown.

"Balls can take funny bounces," Sparrow said. "This time it went our way."

Jacksonville had a chance to tie the game late. But on fourth-and-2 from the Augusta 5, the Tomcats' Jeff McCrone was sacked by Williams and Derrick Reeves.

Sparrow finished off the Tomcats with a 22-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Marcus Whitehead that gave Augusta a 41-27 lead with 18.6 seconds left in the game.

"The fourth quarter was wild," Sparrow said. "We had to score to go ahead."

Sparrow was 8-of-12 passing in the fourth quarter with three touchdown strikes.

"I didn't even look at the scoreboard," Neu said of his team trailing in the fourth quarter. "I just kept looking at the clock, seeing how much time was left. I knew if our guys kept plugging away we'd get a break."

With the score tied at 7 early in the second quarter, Jacksonville took advantage of Augusta's Mike Middleton's fumble.

The Tomcats went on an eight-play, 29-yard drive to go on top. On fourth-and-goal from the 1, Schad Freeman slipped through the left side of the end zone to put the Tomcats up 14-7.

After Tarle missed a field goal attempt late in the first half, Augusta began a drive on its own 1-yard line. On third-and-10, Sparrow hit Siegfried on a 31-yard strike that brought the Stallions down to the Jacksonville 7. On the next play, though, Sparrow's pass to Reeves was fumbled inside the 5 and recovered by the Tomcats.

Jacksonville took advantage of Augusta's fourth first-half turnover on the next play. McCrone hit Bobby Williams with a short pass near the sideline and Williams streaked 47 yards down the left sideline for the touchdown as the Tomcats took a 21-7 halftime lead.

Jacksonville 7 14 3 9 -- 33

Augusta 7 0 7 27 -- 41

Reach Chris Gay at (706) 868-1222 or cag112@hotmail.com