It's this simple. If the Augusta Stallions win tonight, it's back in the arenafootball2 playoffs.
But for a team that's lost three of its last four games, it's not that simple. Augusta will have its hands full when it plays a surging Macon team at 7 p.m. at the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center.
"It's a do-or-die week for us," lineman Blaine Mensch said. "This is our playoff run. It starts this week."
While Augusta has faltered down the stretch, Macon has won seven of its last eight games and Tallahassee has won six straight games. The teams are tied at 9-5 atop the Southeast Division, fighting for the final two playoff positions.
"It seems like they're on a pretty good winning streak now," Augusta quarterback Jermaine Alfred said. "We beat them last time and they probably feel they should have beaten us the first game. So they'll be gunning for that. And they want to beat us at home, because we beat them at home. They have a lot of motivation for this game."
Macon jumped out to a 20-0 lead in its Week 2 matchup with the Stallions. But Augusta rallied and pulled out a 64-60 win with an Alfred touchdown pass to Tim Dumas in the final minute.
Now, the stakes are higher. The winner of tonight's game qualifies for the eight-team playoffs. If Augusta wins, it will earn the No. 7 seed and most likely play at Tennessee Valley in the first round.
However, if the Stallions lose they will need help from Macon next week when Macon and Tallahassee play each other. Augusta, which holds the tiebreaker over Tallahassee, plays at Jacksonville on Friday.
But first, the Stallions face a Macon team which has changed personnel at several positions since their first matchup. The Knights have added quarterback Mike Gluski, kicker Jef Wood, wide receiver/linebacker Gabe Amey, lineman David Evans and defensive specialist Denario Smalls as well as former Stallions fullback Eddie Diaz and wide receiver/linebacker Marcus Whitehead.
"It's a man-to-man league," Augusta coach Mike Hold said. "You just have to put your best men on what you feel are their weakest men and create mismatches. They've upgraded quite a bit. And really it's the same game plan we had the first time - go out there and score points and figure out a way to stop them."
Notes: The Stallions had its second-largest crowd of the season last week with 4,227 fans. The team is expecting another large crowd for tonight's game, especially with the anticipation of 10 bus loads of Macon fans expected to attend.
Former Augusta wide receiver/defensive back Chris Siegfried returns as Macon's offensive coordinator. Ironically, Siegfried and Augusta head coach Mike Hold made their acting debuts in "The Waterboy." Hold played the Central Kentucky quarterback while Siegfried also worked as a football extra.
Reach Chris Gay at (706) 868-1222 or firstname.lastname@example.org