ERIE, PA -- In a game of epic proportions, two of the CIFL's finest teams battled tooth and nail to the final whistle; but at the end of the day the hometown fans of Erie stormed the field to celebrate with their team as the Erie Explosion defeated the Saginaw Sting 37-36 in front of nearly two thousand fans at the Erie Insurance Arena.
Erie took the lead early in the first quarter to go up 7-0 before the Sting marched back with a score and trick-play two point conversion to take the lead 8-7. The Sting tacked on another score with twelve minutes to go in the first half but failed on the two point conversion to take a 14-7 lead. With just under 7 minutes to go Erie's Shon Rowser kicked a field goal to close the gap to four with a score of 14-10.
The Sting fumbled late in the second quarter but Erie was unable to capitalize and turned the ball back over on downs. Sting QB AJ McKenna scored on a keeper and DeShawn Hayes added the two point conversion to go up 22-10 with twenty seconds to go in the half. The momentum changed in the favor of the Explosion with one second remaining on the clock as Erie QB Aaron Smetanka connected with Alfonso Hoggard to cut the lead to five with a score of 22-17 at the half.
The CIFL announced during halftime that the winners of their post season awards, as voted on by the coaches and owners, were as follows:
CIFL Players of the Year: Offensive – Tommy Jones, Dayton Sharks; Defensive – Kwaheem Smith, Erie Explosion; Special Teams – CJ Tarver, Saginaw Sting; CIFL MVP – CJ Tarver, Saginaw Sting
Erie added two more scores in the third quarter to lead Saginaw 30-22 at the end of three. The Sting scored to make it a two point game but failed on the two point try and the Explosion continued to lead 30-28. McKenna found Shaun Hldaki in the back of the end zone and added the two point conversion on a run play to put the Sting ahead for the final time 36-30. With 1:48 remaining on the clock Erie's Richard Stokes closed out the scoring when he plunged into the end zone to score the go-ahead touchdown putting the Explosion up for good 37-36. The Sting fought back to the Explosion six yard line but were unable to capitalize and turned the ball over on downs.
During the post game celebration the league also announced the CIFL Coach of the Year honors went to Shawn Liotta of the 12-0 Erie Explosion.
The Explosion capped off an undefeated season with the CIFL Championship, their first ever indoor football championship in Erie history. With the conclusion of the 2013 CIFL Championship, the Continental Indoor Football League would like to thank its fans, teams and corporate partners for helping complete its eighth consecutive season - continuing its tradition as the longest running indoor football league in the country.
SAGINAW, MI — AJ McKenna came to Saginaw to win a championship.
But he never thought he’d have to go through friends to see that dream happen.
McKenna leads the Sting into the CIFL championship on Sunday, May 12 at 2 p.m. against an Erie Explosion team that he suited up for just last year.
“It’s definitely a storybook ending,” he said. “I’ve talked to a couple of those guys. We’re friends before kickoff, we’ll be friends after kickoff, but once the game kicks off — we’re not friends.”
The championship game marks the culmination of a season of highs and lows as the Sting jumped out to a fast start before faltering in the middle of the season and rising again at the end in pursuit of a third straight championship.
And they’re not ready to give it up.
Saginaw hosted the Dayton Sharks and former quarterback Tommy Jones in the CIFL semifinals on Saturday, May 4 at The Dow Event Center where the Sting scored two touchdowns in the final 35 seconds before a Jamaal Hibler interception secured a spot in the CIFL championship with a 66-63 win.
“They believed in what we’re trying to do and accomplish,” Saginaw coach Fred Townsend said. “That second half, we came together as a team and started executing.”
The Sting fell behind by 21 points after Jones plunged in from 6-yards out to put the Sharks ahead 35-14 five minutes into the third quarter, however, Saginaw came charging back with five passing touchdowns by McKenna to draw within a touchdown on two separation occasions in the second half.
Dayton answered each time and took a 63-50 lead with 46 seconds left on an 11-yard touchdown run by Jones.
But that was the beginning of the end.
McKenna hooked up with Daryl Gooden on a 4-yard touchdown pass 11 seconds later to make it 63-58.
Sting kicker Chris Kollias had been ejected for arguing with officials, but linebacker Enrique Shaw took his place and kicked a successful onside attempt, recovered by CJ Tarver, that became a game-winning 14-yard touchdown pass from McKenna to Gooden with eight seconds left.
“We responded to the critics who said Dayton was going to come out and handle us,” McKenna said. “We came out of here with a big, big win.”
Jones threw one last desperation toss for the Sharks into the end zone that Hibler tipped and came down with to secure the win.
“I’ve got to be honest,” Hibler said. “He's the greatest quarterback I’ve ever faced in my life. I knew that if you give him something, he was going to take advantage of it. But I knew that I could make one play in the game.”
SAGINAW, MI - Only one regular season game remained between Saginaw and the playoffs, and the Sting put it behind them in impressive fashion.
The Sting hosted Detroit on Saturday, April 27 at The Dow Event Center and came back from an early deficit with five Deshawn Hayes touchdowns to run away with a 52-34 win.
"It's all about the playoffs now," Saginaw quarterback A.J. McKenna said. "We've got to put the regular season behind us and go back to work."
Saginaw ends the regular season at 7-2 overall and head into the playoffs against second place Dayton. Due to a scheduling conflict, the Sting will host the Sharks on Saturday, May 4, despite being the lower seed.
SAGINAW, MI - The Saginaw Sting have won the last two league championships, but now they can officially make a run at a third.
Saginaw secured a CIFL playoff spot with its last win over Port Huron and became the third of four teams to make the second season.
"It's a huge accomplishment this year for us to make the playoffs," Sting coach Fred Townsend said. "It's always big for us to have an opportunity to win a championship. From Day 1, I said it doesn't matter what we did last year. It matters what we do right now."
Bullying is an issue that is growing in awareness. Statistics show that 1 in 4 children are victims of some form of bullying by their peers on a consistent basis. Additionally, about 56 percent of students have admitted to witnessing some sort of bullying taking place in their schools. Anti-bullying campaigns have been surfacing throughout the country to raise awareness and the Saginaw Sting is looking to start one next week as well.
Saturday, April 27th the Saginaw Sting is kicking off its Anti-Bullying Campaign at its last regular season home game versus the Detroit Thunder. As part of this campaign the Sting, along with many local business partners, have created a pledge to end bullying in the Great Lakes Bay Region. All students 17 and under who sign this pledge will receive one free General Admission ticket to the game.
“Bullying is something that can be prevented,” said Co-Owner & GM Rob Licht, “and with the help of local businesses; we feel the family-friendly atmosphere of a Sting game is a great place to raise the awareness.” Following the conclusion of 2013 CIFL season the Sting will take to the community as they begin to schedule anti-bullying awareness events at local schools. “Too many times do you hear about unfortunate events occurring as a result of bullying,” said Licht, “The Sting organization wants to be a positive influence for our youth and putting a stop to bullying is a great place to start.”
SAGINAW, MI — Saginaw Sting coach Fred Townsend said his team needed to get back to playing mistake-free football to end their two-game losing streak.
His players listened.
Saginaw hosted Port Huron at The Dow Event Center on Saturday, April 13 and leaned on an explosive ground game, fronted by Deshawn Hayes, to jump out to an early lead and a high-pressure defense to maintain it and pick up a 49-28 win.
“We got our quarterback on the same page with where the ball needs to go in situations,” Saginaw coach Fred Townsend said. “And as you saw tonight, there was a lot more rhythm. Receivers are open, we just have to get it to them and let them make the plays.”
Hayes found himself on the receiving end of an AJ McKenna pass on the second play from scrimmage and the shifty back weaved his way through the Patriots defense 30 yards for a touchdown to give the Sting the early lead.
“It’s just chemistry and us coming together as a team,” Hayes said. “We got together at practice and went over stuff that’s our foundation. We got everyone on the same page.”
Hayes added his second touchdown five minutes later on a 3-yard run, followed by a 9-yard touchdown reception for his third score as time expired in the first quarter, giving Saginaw a 22-0 lead.
“We got a rhythm,” Townsend said. “We got a chance for guys to see the mistakes we made. … If you beat yourselves, you don’t give yourself a chance to win a game. I feel like we corrected those issues we needed to correct, and I’m looking forward to our last game against Detroit and the playoffs because I like our chances.
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