On this, the last day of training camp, Ray Jauch was posed with a problem. And to celebrate, he cracked open a beer.
The Washington Federals had just defeated the Birmingham Stallions, 31-21, in a scrimmage at the Gator Bowl. Backup quarterback Mike Hohensee completed 15 of 22 passes for 249 yards and two touchdowns, both in the fourth quarter.
Hohensee's strong showing will put him in contention for the starting position held thoughout training camp by former Redskin Kim McQuilken. The Federals will practice in Washington next week in preparation for their opener against the Chicago Blitz March 6.
"We've been waiting for Hohensee to throw like that," Jauch said of the former Minnesota star. "There's a good chance you could see both those guys play next week."
All three Birmingham touchdowns came after the Federals botched special-teams plays in the first half. Washington's offensive line and defensive secondary, which had looked weak in last week's loss to the Tampa Bay Bandits, were much improved.
Craig James continued to lead the Federals' offense, gaining 138 yards on 17 carries. The defensive line was especially strong, holding the Stallions to 39 yards on 26 rushing attempts.
On the second play of the game, James ran 76 yards for a touchdown behind fullback James Mayberry's block. After the play, former Maryland tackle Dave Pacella said, "I've never blocked for a fast back before. It kinda makes it easy."
James just smiled when a few teammates surrounded him and cheered him with cries of "Herschel who?"
A 38-yard screen pass from McQuilken to James at the start of the second period set up a 27-yard field goal attempt. But Hohensee muffed the snap and Wendell Ray picked up the fumble and ran for the tying touchdown with 13:14 left in the first half.
Safety Donnie Harris, another former Redskin, put Washington ahead again when he intercepted Bob Lane's screen pass and ran 82 yards for the touchdown with 11 minutes left.
"Lane took a quick drop and I was on the weak side and there was only one receiver there," said Harris. "I had nobody to worry about. I don't think I've ever done that before." Harris had another interception in the second half.
The Federals ended the half disastrously. First, Reggie Smith inadvertently touched a punt and the Stallions recovered on the Federals' three. Robert Parham dived over the goal line from the one to tie the score at 14 with 4:04 left.
Thirty seconds later, Hohensee fumbled a snap from center and linebacker Freddie Smith recovered on the three. After Coy Bacon tackled Parham for a four-yard loss, quarterback Reggie Collier ran an excellent bootleg for a seven-yard touchdown with 2:57 left in the half for a 21-14 Birmingham lead.
Hohensee passed to Mark Brown for gains of 16, 15 and 16 yards to set up Obed Ariri's 35-yard field goal with three seconds left in the half.
The score remained 21-17 throughout the third period. With 14:45 left in the game, Hohensee threw to Brown for a 37-yard touchdown pass.
With 9:55 left, Hohensee threw a beautiful timing pattern pass to the 5-foot-4 Smith for a 36-yard score. Smith raced straight downfield and ran under Hohensee's lofted pass--Smurf-style.
"Now we go home," said Smith. "Something like this has us ready for anybody."