FAYETTEVILLE, North Carolina — Quarterback E.J. Nemeth accounted for three key touchdowns in the fourth quarter and the Harrisburg Stampede claimed its first-ever American Indoor Football championship with a 57-42 victory over the Cape Fear Heroes at Crown Arena.
Harrisburg (8-2, 7-2 AIF) had lost three of its last four meetings against Cape Fear, the defending league champs.
Nemeth scored on two quarterback keepers and then hit running back Victor Sesay on an 11-yard scoring strike with 2:19 remaining. Nemeth’s one-yard run earlier with 4:49 left gave Harrisburg a 49-28 lead.
The game was tied 20-20 at halftime.
The Stampede’s league title is the first for a Harrisburg/Hershey professional sports team since the 2009-2010 Hershey Bears hockey club won the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup.
Harrisburg’s indoor football team is in its first full season under the control of New Orleans Saints wide receiver Marques Colston, a native of Susquehanna Township. Colston attended the championship game.
Cape Fear (7-2) had owned a 2-1 lead in the season series against the Stampede, including a 52-37 victory on May 25 in Fayetteville. Harrisburg won 39-30 at Cape Fear on April 20; while the Heroes also defeated the Stampede 38-36 on May 11 at the PA Farm Show. Harrisburg also lost to the Heroes in last season’s conference final.