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Cats hush raucous crowd

Eric Tabor
Tuesday June 24, 2008

Over 10,000 Spokane Shock fans sat in silent awe as South Georgia Wildcats Kicker Scott Hode booted a 20 yard field goal with no time remaining, ending the undefeated season for the Shock. A game some are already calling “The Greatest Game Ever Played”.

The contest pitted the South Georgia Wildcats against the Spokane Shock. Wildcats coach Derek Stingley’s players were battle tested. A week earlier, Stingley’s Cats shut down Chris Wallace’s Florida Firecat powerhouse in a game that could determine the winner of the almost deadlocked South Division. South Georgia won in dominant fashion, 42-32, behind a stifling defense. The defensive line clobbered and harassed Wallace all night, a stat that does not appear in the stat column, holding the colorful quarter-back to just 233 yards passing and 4 touchdowns. Wildcat fan Edward Dyson thought all those slow strolls to the huddle weren’t just gamesmanship this time.

The Cats, led by scrappy signal caller Andrico Hines, entered Saturday the heavy underdogs. The former Middle Tennessee State Blue Raider was not resigned by Spokane just nine short months ago. Hines is now the toast of the af2. The Touchdown Launcher, the kid with the golden arm, capped his finest win as a pro with a masterful showing. Hines finished 18 of 31 for 216 yards, but if few remember his stats, fewer still will forget his heroics.

Hines played with a chip on of his shoulder in front of a crowd that clamored for his backup much of last season, reaching a peak during a first-round loss to the Louisville Fire.

The first half he played like an excited school boy, sailing passes and overthrowing his targets, twice throwing interceptions to the cheers of Shock faithful.

But in the second half, he settled in and went 9 of 11 for 109 yards, making almost every correct decision as the tense final moments took shape.

“To come back in here (Veterans Arena), show these fans that supported me so much last year that I was here to play,” said Hines. “I wanted to get my team a win.”

Antwan Savage also showed up, though he only had two catches, those grabs were both for touchdowns.

“We knew that because they (Savage and Hines) were on that team they were going to be good,” Shock Head Coach Adam Shackleford explained. “Certainly, I'm upset by the way we played: special teams were a let down tonight, defensively we need to get more stops and offensively we had two or three drives where we just looked real bad.”

Every time the Shock scored The Wildcats answered.

 “Coach Stingley (South Georgia’s Head Coach) got us tonight, he did a good job,” said Shackleford. “If we learn from it, that’s what we’ll take from it,”

The game boiled down to the Wildcats last drive.

On South Georgia’s fifth and final drive of the game, QB Andrico Hines and the Wildcats started from their own 17-yard line. With only 2:02 left in the game, the Wildcats were down by only one-point. Hines started the drive with a swing pass to his leading receiver PJ Berry (9 receptions with 323 all-purpose yards) for a 3-yard gain. His next two passes fell incomplete but on third down Hines and Berry connected for a 28-yard pass that proved to be the back-breaker. This set-up the game-winning field goal attempt for South Georgia’s K Scott Hode, despite a botched-snap, Cecil Lester was able to corral the ball for Scott Hode to run up and get the kick off.

As Hode’s kick sailed through the uprights, an eerie silence fell over Veterans Arena, Cats win 57-55.

Eric Tabor is a technology consultant, a free-lance writer, mobile DJ, and a native of Albany, Georgia. He has been an af2 fan since the Wildcats moved from Cape Fear. As well as being a football enthusiast, former player, and coach, he is married with three daughters and a son.
The opinions expressed in the article above are only those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts, opinions, or official stance of ArenaFan Online or its staff, or the Arena Football League, or any AFL or af2 teams.
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