|By: Matthew Hester
Columbus Lions Indoor Football
Media Relations Director
COLUMBUS, GA (March 31, 2012) – In a seesaw battle featuring nine lead changes, the Columbus Lions (2-2) of the Professional Indoor Football League (PIFL) fall back to .500 after their potential game-winning drive fell short on Saturday losing 63-60 to the Alabama Hammers (1-2).
“Not much I can say, we came up with some key stops in the 2nd half but Alabama played a nearly flawless game on offense,” says Columbus Lions Head Coach Jason Gibson. “I am not overly concerned that we lost this game, but will spend a lot of time reviewing personnel over the bye week.”
Never leading by more than seven, Columbus got the contest off to a hot start when Anthony Merritt returned the opening kickoff 58 yards for a touchdown giving Lions the early lead. For majority of the 1st half, the two clubs exchanged scores until Alabama’s Al Donaldson came up with the game’s first turnover followed up by a Jamie Whitworth 25 yard field goal giving the Hammers a 31-28 lead.
Before closing out the half, Columbus would answer back when wide receiver Maurice Dupree hauled in his third of five touchdown receptions re-taking the lead at 34-33. Alabama would seize a half-time lead of 40-34 when QB Arvell Nelson hooked up with receiver Germico McSwain for his third of four touchdown receptions.
Kicker Jamie Whitworth opened the 2nd half scoring nailing a 28-yard field goal giving the Hammers their largest lead of the night at 43-34. Behind two consecutive defensive stops, Columbus would re-seize control of the lead as QB Randy Hippeard scored the first of two rushing touchdowns on the night followed up by another Maurice Dupree TD reception giving Columbus a 47-43 lead.
After another defensive stand, Columbus failed capitalize and seize control of the game when Hippeard threw his third interception this time falling into the hands of linebacker Darian Payne who promptly returned it 24-yards for a touchdown helping Alabama regain the lead at 56-54.
With just two minutes remaining, Lions would take back the lead at 60-56 when Dupree pulled in a 24-yard pass from Hippeard giving him his fifth and final touchdown of the night. Trailing by four and with just 26 seconds remaining, Alabama’s McSwain grabbed his fourth and final TD giving the Hammers the lead for good at 63-60.
With time expiring, Columbus mustered up a potential game-winning drive that ended on a game-ending touchdown grab by London Crawford, but was called back due to offensive pass interference leaving the Lions with one final untimed down. The Lions final chance were thwarted when Hippeard’s final pass sailed out of the back of the end-zone giving Hammers 63-60 victory over Columbus.
Saturday’s victory over Columbus was the first in four tries for Alabama along with their first road victory in franchise history while the loss marks the first regular-season home loss for the Lions in almost two years dating back to May of 2010.
All six members of the PIFL will have Easter Weekend off before returning to action on April 14th. The Columbus Lions will play host to the Louisiana Swashbucklers (1-2) who on Saturday lost 52-38 to the Albany Panthers (3-0) for the second time in as many weeks.
For interviews from Head Coach Jason Gibson and wide receiver Maurice Dupree, log on to www.columbuslions.net.