Doughboys start off on right foot with 33-13 win | Military
By Nathan Deen
FORT BENNING Ga. - Tailgaters flocked to the parking lots, the smoke and roar of simulated tank fire filled the air, and the Silver Wings landed at midfield to kick off the opening ceremony of the resurgence of Soldiers on the gridiron battlefield. Yep, football was played once again Sunday at Doughboy Stadium.
The Fort Benning Doughboys started their five-game season with a 33-13 win over the LaGrange College Panthers junior varsity squad.
Running back Emmanuel Batson led the way for the Doughboys with 124 rushing yards while quarterback Blake Powers, went 15--of-30 in passing with three touchdowns.
After missing his first three pass attempts, Powers found tight end Mario Jackson wide open in the flat for a 25-yard gain down to the Panthers' 14-yard line. Four plays later, Powers hit receiver Demetrius Carter in the corner of the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown.
With 5:28 remaining in the second quarter, Powers completed a pass to Jesse Lawson on a similar route for an 8-yard score. With a 16-0 lead, the Doughboys looked as if they would run away with the game; however, LaGrange responded on its next drive as Knox Robinson found receiver John Veal wide open for a 33-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 16-7 at halftime.
Anthony Neloms opened the second half with the play of the game for the Doughboys, a 72-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, which gave Fort Benning a 23-7 lead.
"That's a game changer," Gibson said. "I thought that put us to where we need to be to finish the game out. Then they turn around and hit us with a kickoff return just like that."
LaGrange kick returner D.D. McMillian broke lose for an 81-yard touchdown with 5:43 left in the third, cutting the score to 26-13.
However, the Panthers were unable to overcome a tenacious Doughboys defense and their own offensive mistakes to be able to mount a comeback.
The Doughboys held the Panthers offensive to just 150 yards, and the LaGrange had seven bad snaps, several of which resulted in turnovers or occurred on fourth down.
The Doughboys put the game out of reach late in the fourth quarter as Powers threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to Mario Johnson on a fourth-down play.
In spite of his three touchdown passes, Powers said he knew he left a lot of yards and completions on the field.
"We've got some work to do," Powers said. "I feel like I definitely could have played better. We've got to take care of the ball and I've got to have better efficiency in my passing."
Given that Gibson had just 15 practice days with a brand new batch of players, the coach said he was pleased with his team's efforts overall and he now has a better idea of what improvements need to be made.
"It was important to get a win, but also important just to be able to line up," Gibson said. "We hadn't practiced against a 3-4 defense all year long. There were a lot of things to adjust to."
Gibson, also the head coach of the arena football Columbus Lions, who described himself as an outdoor football coach coaching in an indoor league, said he enjoyed the opportunity to coach outdoors once again.
"It's definitely better than being in the arena," he said. "I've missed it."
The Doughboys will have two weeks off to prepare for Georgia Military College, a perennial junior college power that won the 2001 NJCAA championship. The game will be Oct. 15 at Doughboy Stadium at 2 p.m.
"We've got a really strong opponent coming up," Powers said. "We're going to really see what we're made of against that team."