|By: Matthew Hester
Columbus Lions Indoor Football
Media Relations Director
KNOXVILLE, TN (May 12, 2012) – For the second time less than a week, the Columbus Lions (5-3) of the Professional Indoor Football League (PIFL) escaped the jaws of defeat thanks to a last second field goal from their place kicker with this week’s hero being newly signed Chandler Brooks.
“I’m not sure how we have been getting so lucky in the last seconds of these games,” says Columbus Lions Head Coach Jason Gibson. “Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.”
On Saturday, Knoxville and Columbus managed to tie on six different occasions with the clubs starting off the 1st quarter in a dead heat before the Lions would jump out to an early 21-14 lead at the end of the 1st quarter.
Not wasting any time, the Hawks tied up the score at 28 when starting QB Willie Copeland hit receiver Cedric Jones on a 10-yard touchdown pass. From there, Columbus would score just their second and final string of back-to-back touchdowns with QB Randy Hippeard tossing his third passing touchdown, a 25-yard hook-up with London Crawford followed up by a QB keeper giving them their largest lead of the night at 15 points.
In the final minute of the first half, Knoxville scored two late touchdowns one of which included the second of four rushing touchdowns for Cassen Jackson-Garrison pulling the Hawks within two. In a bit of foreshadowing, newly signed Lions kicker Chandler Brooks nailed a 21-yard field goal as time expired to give Columbus a 39-34 halftime lead.
In what proved to be a quick third quarter, the Lions got their only points of the quarter once again riding the leg of Brooks as he connected on another field goal this time from just 19 yards out to extend the lead to eight. That lead was quickly evaporated as Jackson-Garrison punched in another rushing TD and coupled with a successful two point conversion, the Hawks and Lions were snarled up at 42.
Towards the middle of the 4th, the two squads were knotted at 49 with Columbus driving only to fumble a Center-to-QB exchange recovered by Knoxville’s Chance Talbert. But just four plays later, defensive back Anthony Merritt hauled in his second INT of the night and on the ensuing drive the Lions broke the 49-all tie when QB Randy Hippeard snuck in for his third rushing TD.
Unfortunately, the extra point attempt by Brooks sailed wide left giving Columbus just a six point lead at 55-49. With just 14 seconds remaining, Knoxville again tied the score when receiver Ryan Schuck recovered a fumble in the end-zone leaving his squad a chance for a potential go-ahead PAT attempt. Having already gone a perfect 5 for 5 on PAT’s, all kicker Alex Walls needed to do was make it six and the Hawks would have taken the lead for just the second time all night.
Walls kick sailed wide right leaving the Hawks and Lions tied at 55. Walls also missed the ensuing Uno attempt and Columbus quickly got two pass plays off before setting up the potential game-winner by Brooks.
Signed mid-week, Brooks (6’1 175, Auburn) was getting the start at kicker tonight as regular kicker Trey Crum will be out of action for the current three-game road trip due to prior obligations. Collegiately, Chandler gained notoriety last season after an on-side kick attempt off his right leg was recovered by the Auburn Tigers in their opening victory over Utah State.
Up until that last missed PAT, Chandler had been 5 of 6 in extra point attempts and even notched his two Uno’s. But it was his final three points that proved to be the most important as Brooks kicked a 37-yard field goal as time expired to send the Lions home with a 58-55 victory over Knoxville.
From here, Knoxville (1-7) will try and rebound but will have to do so in Lake Charles, LA when they meet up with the Louisiana Swashbucklers (3-5) next Saturday night. Meanwhile, Columbus will make their second stop on their current three-game road trip with next Saturday’s meeting against the Richmond Raiders (6-2) giving the winner a leg-up on second place in the PIFL standings.
For post-game interviews featuring Lions defensive back Anthony Merritt, kicker Chandler Brooks, and Head Coach Jason Gibson, log on to www.columbuslions.net and click on the Lions TV app.