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Shorter field gives Doughboys edge

The Fort Benning Doughboys moved from outdoors to indoors Sunday and earned a lopsided 68-0 win in an arena football game against the Cherry Point (N.C.) Marines at the Civic Center.

The game was part of the first Military Classic, which also showcased an arena game between Georgia and Alabama high school players.

The game was played underarena rules, which means a seven-on-seven matchup on a 50-yard field.The shorter, tighter field helped the Doughboys, who had a coach and a quarterback with an arena football background.

“It’s my job; it’s what I do,” said Doughboys head coach Jason Gibson, who is also the coach of the Columbus Lions. “Blake (Powers) played some arena ball and we had some experience, so it panned out for us. We had an advantage over the Marines. They’ve got good players, they just got caught up not knowing the arena rules.”

Powers signed to play quarterback for the Spokane (Wash.) Shock in 2010 before joining the Army. He said practicing outdoors with his receivers, who didn’t have arena experience, was difficult.

“We were practicing at Gowdy Field, and we couldn’t get a feel for the wall,” he said. “But we got to do a walk-through this morning and everyone got used to it. It’s a faster-paced game — you’ve got to make decisions quicker and be quicker getting rid of the ball.”

The Doughboys scored 34 points in each half and forced seven Marine turnovers, including three interception returns for touchdowns. Powers had three touchdown passes in the game.

Powers said he was surprised at how well his team played considering the short amount of time it had to practice.

“We had heard rumors (the Marines) had been practicing for a couple of months, but we only got to practice for a week,” he said.

Mitchell Whitney, head coach for the Marines, said he is looking to schedule an 11-on-11 rematch in the fall on a regulation-size football field.

The last Doughboys game was Nov. 10. Because the Doughboys are unable to have spring practice, Gibson said the game allowed him to reconnect with his players.

“It’s good to keep the guys in the loop who are on post so we can get ready for the fall games,” he said. “It’s a good springboard and guys are learning my system, so it’s exciting.”