COLUMBUS -- Columbus had been searching for a spark on offense after its first three games of the season.
The Wardogs found one in Saturday's game against Augusta at the Columbus Civic Center -- recently signed offensive specialist Phil Taylor. Unfortunately, the charge Taylor provided wasn't enough to lift the Wardogs to their second victory in franchise history. The Stallions defeated the Wardogs 55-39 before an estimated crowd of 2,500.
"This is the first game where they switched around the offense, so hopefully it will continue to get better in the coming weeks," Taylor said. "I think it will."
Augusta wide receiver Chris Johnson was ejected from the game with 10:19 to play in the fourth quarter for pushing a referee. Johnson made contact with the referee after he was whistled for a personal foul. The penalties took the Stallions out of scoring position and the Wardogs took over after a missed field goal attempt. The chance to cut into the Stallions' 48-39 lead ended when Columbus wide receiver Moe Cooper let a pass from quarterback Billy Luckie bounce off his chest and into the hands of an Augusta defender.
"I lost focus," Cooper said. "I wanted to get it and go."
The turnover led to a touchdown run by Augusta fullback Dirk Lincicome. Taylor finished the game with nine catches for 189 yards and four touchdowns.
"I know what type of moves to make," Taylor said. "I know how to read the defensive backs, and I think I have a better advantage against a lot of the defensive backs in this league."
Augusta took a 14-0 first quarter lead on two touchdown passes by quarterback Glen Gauntt. Columbus got on the board when Luckie hooked up with Taylor for a 46-yard touchdown pass. Columbus kicker Chad Holleman's extra point kick made the score 14-7.
The Stallions went up 20-7 in the second quarter on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Gauntt to Johnson.
Taylor found the end zone again on a 39-yard touchdown reception to pull the Wardogs within seven points. Holleman's extra point kick was off the mark. Gauntt was picked off by Columbus defensive back Jamaine Morse on the following possession, giving the Wardogs a chance to put together a game-tying drive. The opportunity to tie things up was ended when Augusta defensive specialist LaVar Rainey intercepted a Luckie pass on the Augusta goal line.
Gauntt connected with wide receiver Stuart Brown on a 49-yard touchdown pass to give the Stallions a 27-13 lead. Brown fell down inside the Columbus 15-yard line when he made the catch, but Columbus defensive specialist Shedrick Harris didn't touch him, which allowed Brown to get up and trot into the end zone for the score.
Columbus wide receiver/defensive back Michael Scott returned the ensuing kickoff 58 yards for the Wardogs' final score of the first half. The Stallions added another touchdown before halftime to take a 34-20 lead at the break.
The Wardogs will try to get back into the win column next Saturday when they host Tallahassee at the Civic Center. Game time is 7 p.m.