SAGINAW, MI -- CJ Tarver's 50-yard kick return for a touchdown on the opening play of the game was as good a start as the Saginaw Sting could've dreamed for the 2015 season opener.
But the rest was a bit of a nightmare.
Saginaw jumped out to a 17-0 lead in its American Indoor Football League debut against Reading ASI, but the Sting offense was stung by the Panthers who surged back to record a 35-29 win on Friday, March 20.
"We were just a step off on some of our throws and a step away from doing some really nice things," Saginaw coach Greg Wasmer said. "We're going to be OK. We're going to be fine."
Josh McIntosh kicked a field goal, and Brady Attaway hooked up with Alex Evans on a 20-yard touchdown reception to give the Sting a 17-0 lead after their first three possessions.
But Reading roared back with a dominating second quarter.
Jim McCreery connected on consecutive touchdown passes with Tyriq Smith and Darryl Shine, while Joe Ambrosini kicked a 20-yard field goal to force a 17-17 tie.
The two teams traded touchdowns, but a missed extra point and safety by Reading put the Sting on top 26-23 heading into the half.
However, Saginaw only mustered a third-quarter field goal the rest of the way.
Ambrosini threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Deven Baker, and Jonas Celian recovered a Sting fumble in end zone with 40 seconds left in the third for what proved to be the game-winning score.
The Panthers won the turnover battle 5-2. Reading picked off four Saginaw passes, and it recovered a fumble.
Saginaw finished with 101 return yards, highlighted by a 50-yard touchdown return on the game's opening kick, and Reading had 68 return yards on four attempts.
Tarver was the playmaker he's always been for the Sting. In addition to returning the game's opening kick for a touchdown, he also had nine receptions for 87 yards and a touchdown.
Alberty Presley was a monster on the defensive line for the Sting recording two sacks and pressuring Reading into a safety in the first half. His pass rush also led to another sack for Saginaw.
Virgil Williams recorded two interceptions for the Sting from his defensive back position.
The Sting was atrocious. Saginaw turned the ball over five times and struggled making head way on the ground and through the air. The Sting finished with seven carries for minus-8 yards, and Attaway was 21 of 42 passing for 144 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions.
Saginaw had a couple defensive breakdowns in the first half that led to two wide open passing touchdowns for the Panthers.
Sting host the Reading ASI Panthers - Friday March 20th
6PM Tailgate (Free w/ Any Game Ticket Purchase!)
7:30PM Kickoff - Tickets start at only $10
Visit the Dow Box Office today!
SAGINAW, MI -- In conjunction with March is Reading Month the Saginaw Sting took time out of their busy training camp schedules to tour local elementary schools visiting classrooms and speaking during assemblies. Stops on this year's tour included Bangor Central, Westdale, Shields and Ling Elementary.
"We enjoy talking to kids about the importance of education," said Co-Owner Stuart Schweigert, "It was great having Sting players promote health and fitness to the students, including my alma mater, Westdale Elementary."
The Sting's AIF season begins this Friday, March 20th, at 7:30PM when they take on the Reading Panthers on Draper Auto Field inside The Dow Event Center. Tickets are on sale now at the Dow box office and start at only $10.
Here's some highlights from the visits to the local elementary schools:
SAGINAW, MI -- New league. New coach. New players.
Same winning attitude.
That's the motto the Saginaw Sting are taking into the 2015 season that features a whole lot of new, except for, the Sting hope, on the scoreboard.
"You don't have to be a football fan to come out," Saginaw Sting co-owner and Director of Football Operations Stuart Schweigert said. "Our big thing is it's family fun at an affordable price. If you come to our games and see all the kids having a good time and wives having a good time while dad enjoys a football game, that's what it's all about."
Saginaw opens the season at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 20 at The Dow against the Reading ASI Panthers.
It'll be a new experience for Sting fans this season as Saginaw embarks on a new campaign as a member of the American Indoor Football League after playing in the Continental Indoor Football League for the last few seasons.
The Sting have home games against the Panthers, York Capitals, Cleveland Saints, Chicago Blitz and Buffalo Lightning with road games against the Atlanta Sharks, Chicago and Buffalo.
And their rosters are stacked with players with Division I and professional experience.
Saginaw alone has players from Louisiana, Texas, New Jersey, New York, Indiana and Michigan.
"We're very excited about the competition," Schweigert said. "We're very excited about the professionalism of the ownership groups involved in this league."
Sting management is also excited about former Carrollton head coach Greg Wasmer who takes over the helm of the franchise and the scores of new players under his direction.
Latreze Mushatt, DeShawn Hayes, Spenser Smith, Daryl Gooden and CJ Tarver headline the seven returning players, but Saginaw has a new man behind center with Sam Houston State record holder Brady Attaway taking snaps.
"We've got a lot of new faces, so we're excited about that," Wasmer said. "The big thing for us as coaches is we have to get these guys to play like a team."
Wasmer said Saginaw is going to play an exciting brand of football that fans are going to love.
"It lends itself to be a little more open as far as scoring, so the points should be up compared to what they're used to," he said. "It's going to be a lot more like a basketball game as far as the high scoring games."