AUGUSTA, Ga. –The Paine College club football team played its first game in 51-years on Oct. 12 against Georgia Prep Sports Academy. The Atlanta based Georgia Prep Lions defeated the Paine Lions 20-13 in a thrilling Battle of the Lions.
The Purple and White dressed 89 young men for the game which proved to be a strong showing of what Paine will be capable of in the coming games. Georgia Prep received the opening kick-off and scored on their first drive with a touchdown pass thrown from Jonquel Dowson to K.J. Miller. Dowson then threw an interception as the team attempted a two-point conversion giving them a 6-0 lead.
Paine's quarterback, Loranzo Hammonds, Jr., started Paine's new era of football on the ground running orchestrating a few quick runs with Jarius Richardson and picking up some yardage on the ground himself. Hammonds then rushed his way into the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown run. Terry Wiley, Jr. made the PAT for the Lions giving them the lead 7-6.
In the second quarter, Dowson connected with Donte Johnson on a 23-yard pass for another GPSA touchdown. Georgia Prep again went for two. This time they were successful and the Dowson-Johnson tandem put up two more points giving them the lead back at 14-7.
With Paine set to receive at the start of the second half, Georgia Prep pulled a surprise onside kick and recovered the ball. Both teams were scoreless in the third quarter and Paine entered the fourth pumped and ready to go. With just over ten minutes remaining in the game, Hammonds threw a 43-yard touchdown pass to Danny Wohlgemuth to elevate the team. Wiley, Jr. missed the PAT leaving the score at 14-13 Georgia Prep.
Georgia Prep received the ball after a Paine turnover on downs with less than 3 minutes remaining in the game. Dowson threw a quick pass from the 37-yard line to Miller for another GPSA touchdown. Dowson's two-point conversion ended with an incomplete pass putting the GPSA Lions up 20-13.
The Purple and White received the ball with just about two minutes remaining in the game but failed to put more points on the board after recovering their own fumble, allowing two big sacks and turning the ball over on downs.
Earlier in the week, head coach Greg Ruffin stressed the importance of his team minimizing the penalties as they play their first games and continue to develop as a program. Today, the team allowed several penalties that negatively impacted them on both sides of the ball as they continue to learn to play together as a new team and at the pace at which their games will require.
"To be even in the ballgame at the end is a blessing with the culmination of penalties and turnovers," said Ruffin. "It was like every time we got a big play, it got called back."
Ruffin and his staff will also be working hard these next weeks to strengthen up at the quarterback position as Hammonds has great potential to grow alongside the entire Lions team.
"We had some ball security issues at quarterback," stated Ruffin. "We have to clean that up and clean up the protection. Overall, you can see the skill set of our football team and we have something to build on."
A strong crowd of nearly 5,000 packed Laney Memorial Stadium to witness the return. The game had special meaning to the young men on the field as well as many of the faculty, staff, students, alumni and supporters in the stands who have prepared and planned for this moment right along with the team and coaching staff.
"I'm still excited about the fact that Paine brought back the team," added Hammonds, Jr. "A lot of people were behind Paine today and I liked that. It felt good."
Paine takes the field again at Laney Stadium next Saturday, Oct. 19, at 2 p.m.
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