On a night when Augusta quarterback Jermaine Alfred got injured, his defense picked him up.
Alfred accounted for the Stallions' first six touchdowns, and the defense made two fourth-quarter interceptions as Augusta held on for a 49-39 win in front of 3,618 fans at Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center on Saturday night.
"When you see your quarterback, your leader, go down, you get motivated to get back in there," said Augusta defensive specialist Maurice Blanding, who had one of Augusta's three interceptions. "We have two excellent quarterbacks, so we didn't lose anything. But at the same time, you don't want to see your leader go down. We knew we had to step it up and make plays."
The Stallions (7-1) had a 34-32 lead late in the third quarter, when defensive end Maurice Miller drove Alfred to the turf. Alfred left the game for two plays but returned on fourth-and-10 on the Greensboro 20 and hit a wide-open Richard Banks in the end zone. Kicker Keith Gispert recovered his own missed extra-point attempt, and the Stallions took a 42-32 lead into the fourth quarter.
After Greensboro (4-4) scored to pull within three early in the fourth quarter, Alfred floated a pass to Banks over the middle, and Cranston Johnson made the interception. The right-handed Alfred then left the game and had his left shoulder put in a sling. Alfred was going to get an X-ray late Saturday night or early today. The early diagnosis is a separated shoulder, which leaves him questionable for Saturday's game at Carolina.
"We don't know what it is - his shoulder. I'm not sure how bad (it's injured)," Stallions coach Mike Hold said. "He couldn't lift his shoulder up without having a lot of pain."
After the Prowlers' interception, Johnny Johnson connected with Cranston Johnson on a 23-yard pass play that moved the ball to the Augusta 10. On the next play, Blanding stepped in front of Demeco Archangel in the end zone and intercepted Johnny Johnson's pass.
Greensboro got the ball back midway through the fourth quarter as it trailed by two. From the Greensboro 22, Johnny Johnson was hit as he threw. Augusta's Blaine Mensch snatched the ball out of the air and returned it to the Prowlers 4. One play later, backup quarterback Glen Gauntt hit Tim Dumas in the end zone for a 10-point lead with 5:41 remaining.
"Someone just tipped it up, and it just happened to fall in my hands. Then I became a running back and tried to take it up the sideline," Mensch said of the interception.
Augusta opened the game with a five-play drive that culminated with a 7-yard touchdown pass from Alfred to Banks. Later in the first quarter, Alfred scrambled and found Shah Mays in the back of the end zone for an 8-yard score.
But momentum changed at the end of the first quarter as a Stallions penalty gave Greensboro new life after a failed field goal attempt. On second-and-goal from the 15, Prowlers quarterback Johnny Johnson tucked it and rushed up the left sideline to cut the lead to 14-7.
On Augusta's next possession, Alfred was hit by John Scott as he threw. Greensboro's Sigmund Platt picked off the pass over the middle and went 20 yards for the score to pull the Prowlers within one.
Late in the first half, Alfred barreled over defensive specialist John Mosbyon a 4-yard touchdown run. After a Tom Sardello interception, Alfred scored on a 1-yard run to give the Stallions a 27-13 lead with 30.5 seconds left in the first half.
Greensboro's James Thomas kicked a 45-yard field goal as the half expired to trim the lead to 11. Thomas opened the second half with a 52-yard field goal, and the Prowlers were within eight.
Dumas took the ensuing kickoff out of the end zone and fumbled at the Augusta 21. Greensboro recovered and rushed four straight times. From the 4, Platt bowled over the Stallions' defensive line on his way to the end zone. Platt was stuffed on the two-point try and Augusta led 27-25.
Reach Chris Gay at (706) 868-1222 or firstname.lastname@example.org.