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Dragons Slain in Home Opener

Padraic Meehan
Monday April 23, 2001

The New York Dragons kicked off their inaugural 2001 season, hauling 11,216 people to the Nassau Coliseum. The 11,000-plus attendance at “The Lair” easily shattered New York’s former arena football attendance record, a meager 8,271 set when the New York CityHawks played the New Jersey Red Dogs on May 4th 1998 at Madison Square Garden.

Commissioner David Baker was on hand to present a commemorative ball to QB Aaron Garcia for his accomplishments in the 2000 season. “This is a great start,” stated the towering honcho of the AFL. “Everyone had a great time and they’ll all be back.”

Despite the off-field success, New York fell to the Toronto Phantoms 68-58. Ironically, this was only the third time the Phantoms franchise, formerly the New York CityHawks, won a game in New York in the club’s 15 outings in the Big Apple.

The Dragons started off strong, with QB Aaron Garcia connecting to OS Kevin Swayne for the first reception in Dragons’ history. On the same drive, 49 yards later, Swayne pulled in the first touchdown in New York’s 8 minute, 53 second history. The former Orlando Rage star is no stranger to milestones; only two and a half months ago, he was on the receiving end of the first touchdown in XFL history. Toronto answered with a one-yard rush for a touchdown by Daren Williams to even the score at 7-7 at the close of the first quarter.

New York began the second quarter on a high note, with Swayne scoring his second of three touchdowns of the evening. However, Dragons’ kicker Clay Rush missed his first of two field goals of the night, leaving the score at 13-7. Charlie Davidson, the only former CityHawk that remains on the Phantoms’ roster, scored two touchdowns in the second quarter.

Following the game, Davidson, who is known for his endzone backflips, said, “It was great to be back, the fans are the best here in New York.”

New York finished the first half strong with a Shon King touchdown reception and a defensive stand that ended with OS Damian Harrell throwing an incomplete pass to Charlie Davidson in the endzone in the closing seconds of the half.

The closing minutes of the third quarter marked the beginning of the end for the Dragons, however. After Aaron Garcia ran for a touchdown, Toronto QB Pat O’Hara threw for a score to Ty Law, capping off the third quarter as New York clung to a 43-41 lead. Garcia went on to throw two costly interceptions in the fourth quarter to WR/DB Charlie Davidson and DS Anthony Derricks, respectively. Each interception resulted in seven points for Toronto. Despite a valiant comeback attempt with seconds remaining, the outcome had been decided, and the Dragons will have to wait a week for their first-ever victory.

The best is still yet to come. New York WR/DB Scott Cloman made his return from the XFL recently and will be ready to play in time for the game against the Destroyers on the 27th, and despite Kevin Swayne’s performance of 12 receptions for 157 yards and three touchdowns, Garcia claims he and Swayne have yet to fully “click.” The Dragons’ next home game will be Friday, April 27th against the Buffalo Destroyers at 7:00 pm.”

Padraic Meehan was a writer for ArenaFan Online from 2000 to 2001.
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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