|By: Matthew Hester
Columbus Lions Indoor Football
Media Relations Director
COLUMBUS, GA (March 24, 2012) – After falling behind on two separate occasions in the 2nd half, the Columbus Lions (2-1) of the Professional Indoor Football League moved above .500 for the first time this season in a 56-43 victory over the Alabama Hammers (0-2).
“We really have come to expect not to come away with any easy victories,” says Columbus Lions Head Coach Jason Gibson. “Every game will prove to be a test of our will and determination and both won out tonight.”
Led behind another eight touchdown performance from QB Randy Hippeard, the Columbus Lions gained a season-high 341 yards of total offense scoring and now currently boast the PIFL’s top scoring offense averaging 59 points/game.
After their first two games, the Lions defense silenced some of their critics on Saturday coming up with six total turnovers including two interceptions by defensive back Jeff Lemon along with one interception and fumble recovery by defensive back David Smith.
QB Chris Mayabb got the start for the Hammers, but struggled early only completing 4 of 12 passes for 68 yards and one touchdown. Despite turning the ball over once, Mayabb kept Alabama within reach by also scoring on two rushing touchdowns.
By the middle of the 2nd quarter Alabama was down 28-13 but in between the final minutes of the first half and opening moments of the 2nd half, the Hammers scored 20 unanswered points taking a 33-28 lead their first lead of the game.
After a scoreless drought that lasted an entire quarter, Columbus finally got back on the board scoring on consecutive drives with touchdown passes to London Crawford and Gerald Gales retaking the lead at 40-33. Both Crawford and Gales would finish the night hauling in three touchdown passes.
With less than eight minutes remaining, the Hammers would score 10 more unanswered points thanks to a Charles McClain 36 yard touchdown grab and a Jamie Whitworth 22 yard field goal grabbing a 43-40 lead. Alabama’s McClain would finish the night pulling in 7 receptions for 121 yards and two touchdowns while adding another 115 yards on kickoff returns.
Before the game, Columbus elected not to carry a kicker this week and by this point was only 2 of 6 in two point conversions and was down by three. But three straight completions to Maurice Dupree followed by Gales third touchdown grab of the night the Lions recaptured the lead and converted the two point conversion on a half-back pass from Merritt to Crawford going up by five.
Any chance of a Hammers comeback was thwarted as QB Arvell Nelson, who took over for the starter Mayabb late in the first half, threw two late interceptions including one in the end-zone along with Columbus adding one more touchdown helped the Lions close out their first road win of the season.
In other action from around the league, the Albany Panthers (2-0) picked up their first road win of the season as well defeating the Louisiana Swashbucklers (1-1). In that game, former Lions DB Damian Daniels grabbed career INT number 77. Richmond (2-1) moved back to a game over .500 with a 70-42 throttling of the Knoxville Nighthawks (0-2).
Columbus will return home this Saturday March 31st against the Alabama Hammers. It will be “Military Appreciation Night” featuring $5 tickets for military personnel (only thru Lions front office) along with free Koozie’s to the first 1,500 fans in attendance courtesy of Cable TV of East Alabama.
For more information, log on to www.columbuslions.net or contact the front office at 706-322-3336.