For three games, Augusta's defense has struggled at the start of each game.
That wasn't the case Saturday night.
Augusta's defense scored twice in the first four minutes and the Stallions blistered the Columbus Wardogs 66-17 in front of 3,342 fans at the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center. Augusta improved to 4-0 in arenafootball2 play, while Columbus dropped to 0-3.
"We had to make a statement because we've been coming out slow the first three games," said Stallions defensive specialist Maurice Blanding, who had three of Augusta's six interceptions. "We didn't do anything different. We just played ball. Our coach has been putting us in the right position, but we just haven't been making plays."
Jermaine Alfred tossed four touchdown passes in a 13-of-22 performance for 134 yards. Tim Dumas caught five passes for 67 yards and had two touchdown grabs.
But defense ruled this game. Dirk Lincicome, Clifton Shavers and Matt Sardello each had an interception, and Augusta's defense also had three sacks, recovered two fumbles and blocked a kick.
"(Defense) played well, and they have for the last two weeks," Stallions coach Mike Hold said. "That really set the tone for the game getting those quick two touchdowns. Heck, I don't think we got the ball (offensively) until there was a minute to go in the first quarter. It wasn't a huge offensive game, but we moved the ball and scored."
On the Wardogs' first play from scrimmage, Lincicome made a two-handed interception of Chris Perkins' pass over the middle and went eight yards for the score.
Things didn't get any better for Columbus on its next possession. Perkins was stripped of the ball by Augusta's Clarence Williams, and Derrick Reeves scooped the ball up at the 10 and gave Augusta a 14-0 lead with 10:32 left in the first quarter.
"I didn't feel like their quarterback could sit in the pocket all night," Lincicome said. "We were just bringing some heat up front. I just think we out-manned 'em, really."
Columbus had the ball for the first 13:40 of the game but came away empty. Late in the first quarter, Blanding intercepted a Perkins pass on the Augusta 11. The turnover gave the Stallions their first offensive possession with 1:20 left before the second quarter.
After a Columbus touchdown early in the second quarter, Shah Mays returned the ensuing kickoff 50 yards for an apparent touchdown. But a holding penalty by Augusta brought the ball back to the 6-yard-line.
That was one of Augusta's few mistakes as the team took a 35-7 lead into halftime. The Stallions then soon put the game out of reach.
Augusta opened the second half with a five-play, 42-yard scoring drive. On first-and-goal from the 9, Alfred hit Reeves on a screen pass at the 6, and Reeves bounced off two defenders en route to the end zone.
"All three phases of the football game were good - kicking game, offense and defense," Hold said. "I'm happy."
The lone bright spot for Columbus was receiver Karlos Odom. Odom caught a game-high seven passes for 151 yards.
Reach Chris Gay at (706) 868-1222.