Sledgehammer Soldiers win Doughboy Classic
November 3, 2010
FORT BENNING, Ga. -- Soldiers assigned to the Fort Stewart, Ga., 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, brought service football back to Fort Benning's Doughboy Stadium with a 29-13 victory over the Columbus State Cougar football club, Oct. 28.
The inaugural Doughboy Classic pitted active-duty Soldiers against college players for the first time since the early 1970s, according to Richard Hyatt, a Columbus, Ga., author and journalist.
"We really hope we have planted a seed with this game," said John Hargrove, the owner of the Columbus Lions and one of the game's chief organizers. "It is a beautiful night for football and to bring three cross-sections of this community, the military, Columbus State University and the Columbus community, together for an event is a great thing."
A capacity crowd watched the Sledgehammer football team take the early lead, and they never looked back in a game that featured multiple turnovers and big hits from both sides.
"It was a sloppy game," said Jason Gibson, the head coach of the Columbus Lions and the Sledgehammer team. "Turnovers kill you, but it did make it a more interesting game. In a way, it was good that it happened because everyone stayed until the end and had a good time. [But] as coach, turnovers still drive you nuts."
Despite losing, the Columbus State players impressed the 3rd HBCT Soldiers with their attitude and effort.
"Columbus State had a lot of heart," said Sgt. Salvatore Alberico, a 1/15 Inf. paralegal. "It looked like we had twice their number in the pre-game ceremonies and they hung in there the entire game."
After initially being put back on their heels when the Cougars recovered an onside kick on the opening kickoff, the Sledgehammer players settled down and used a consistent running attack and their defense to wear down their opponents.
"Coach Gibson has preached patience and discipline ever since we started practice five weeks ago," said Pfc. Hung Thanh Wagner, a left tackle assigned to Headquarters Company, Brigade Special Troops Battalion. "We just stuck with our game plan and remained disciplined. It paid off for us."
After competing for three grueling quarters, the Sledgehammer team entered the final quarter clinging to a three-point lead. Starting at their own 28-yard line, starting quarterback, Capt. Tim Smith, 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, led the Sledgehammers down the field. After connecting on a long pass play to Sgt. Jesse Lawson, Troop D, 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, Capt. Smith handed off to Spc. Emmanuel Batson, a Soldier in Company C, 2/69 Armor, for an 8-yard touchdown run.
Another touchdown run by Sgt. Shamon Poole, Company F, 1/15 Infantry, on the following series put the game out of reach for the Cougars and cinched the Sledgehammer team's 29-13 victory.
"It was a great win," said Gibson. "This was one of the most rewarding experiences of my coaching career, I'm not going to lie. I'm going to have a hole in my heart next week when I can't drive on to Fort Benning and coach those guys. This whole experience; from meeting the guys, to playing in Doughboy Stadium, to picking up the win, has been something I'll never forget."