The Jacksonville Stingrays took the field at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville on Saturday for the first game in franchise history. Despite league wide games with no fans in attendance, the Florida State Government announced that it was “Open for Business” a slogan that was made popular in the state by former Governor and current Congressman Rick Scott. Fans from across the state, though mostly from Jacksonville and some from South Florida, trickled in, with an announced attendance of 54,928.
On the field, the Stingrays would face their new, but hated cross-state rival, the Miami Mustangs.
Kicker Marc Orozco became the first player in franchise history to score, as he booted a 22 yard field goal to give Jacksonville a 3-0 lead. Shortly there after, RB Devin Singletary would score the first touchdown of his career to give the team a 10-0 lead.
QB Matt Nichols would rocket a 10 yard pass to rookie WR Hunter Renfrow in the second quarter, and that would be all Jacksonville needed to gain the first win in franchise history as the Stingrays defeated the Mustangs 23-10.
“It was a good afternoon.” said QB and team captain Matt Nichols; “After all the scrutiny and the bizarre off-season that I went through, it was good to just get out there and let the ball fly.” and fly it did, Nichols was 26/34 for 336 yards. Nichols biggest target was breakout sensation TE Mo Alie-Cox, the 6-7 former college basketball player was dynamic and a huge playmaker out there for the Stingrays offense.
Devin Singletary didn’t quite hit 100 yards rushing, only gaining 80 yards on 23 carries, but he added 54 yards in the passing game and had a really quality afternoon of work.
The Stingrays offense held the ball for over 36 minutes and gained 424 total yards on offense.
As impressive as that sounds, the Stingrays defense was the biggest factor in the game today. The Stingrays defense was swarming all afternoon, sacking Miami QB Bart Houston six times. Led by the defensive team captain, Kevin Minter, whom posted 2 sacks and led the team in tackles, the Stingrays held Miami to a paltry 169 yards of total offense, holding Miami’s running backs to only 51 yards rushing.
The Stingrays face baptism by fire this weekend, however, as the biggest test of their young lives comes in week two with a trip to the lions den in Orlando. Orlando was dismantled in week one by Birmingham, but one can never, ever sleep on the Orlando Rockets or team owner Jeffery Stoicescu.
“It was really fun beating Miami” said team owner Ryan Clark; “We have to focus on Orlando now and walking into Orlando and coming out with a win is no easy task. I have a lot of respect for Jeff and I know that he and coach Jones will have them ready to go. I also just wanted to add a special thanks to all the fans that braved the Corona Virus to show up at the stadium on Saturday, as the only team that turned a profit this weekend, thanks!, this win was for all of y’all!”
The Stingrays make the trip South this weekend to take on the Rockets at Spectrum Stadium, it’s expected to be a sold out crowd, so stubhub still has great tickets available!