|By: Matthew Hester
Columbus Lions Indoor Football
Media Relations Director
COLUMBUS, GA (June 13, 2012) – Looking to end the franchise’s first ever three-game losing streak, the Columbus Lions (5-6) of the Professional Indoor Football League (PIFL) host the Knoxville Nighthawks (1-10) in the regular season finale this Saturday at 7:30 PM.
Last weekend’s 57-54 loss to archrival Albany created a number of firsts for the Columbus Lions. Not only did the club drop its third straight, first time in franchise history, but the team plunged to a game below .500 for the first time this late in season. A loss on Saturday versus the Nighthawks and the club will finish the regular season below .500 for the first time in the clubs six-year tenure.
Back on May 12th, the Lions were riding high off a two-game winning streak with the last leg coming on a 58-55 win over Knoxville. Columbus won their second consecutive game on a game-ending kick and ever since then have been in free-fall watching them lose an outside shot at the 2nd seed in the upcoming playoffs to now potentially finding themselves as the 4th seed.
Going into that stretch, much of the blame was attributed to the Lions defense especially since the squad still ranks last in total defense (277 yards allowed/game). But of late it’s been the offense’s difficulty in not turning the ball over. During the club’s three-game losing streak, Columbus has committed 13 turnovers going from a turnover margin of +9 to -1 in that span.
Despite having just one victory Knoxville may not be the easiest team for the Lions to end their losing streak against. Since their lone win back on May 5th, the Hawks have dropped four straight with their opponents margin of victory at 4.5 points losing three of those four contests by less than three.
Nighthawks DB Ginikachi Ibe has proven to be a thorn in the Lions side grabbing four of his league-leading nine interceptions in the previous two meetings versus Columbus. The past two weeks, Knoxville’s offense has been led by QB Russell Hill who for majority of the season served as the back-up quarterback. In near defeats over both Richmond and Albany, Hill completed over 55% of his passes for 500 yards and 12 TD’s.
Win or lose, Columbus playoff seeding fate will ride on what the Louisiana Swashbucklers (5-6) do this weekend versus the Alabama Hammers (3-8). The only way the Lions could obtain the 3rd seed is if they win coupled with a Louisiana loss. If Columbus and Louisiana were to both win or lose the tie-breaker would fall to the Swashbucklers giving them the 3rd seed.
What hangs in the balance are potential first round meetings with either the Albany Panthers or Richmond Raiders. Whoever falls in the 3rd seed will travel to take on the Raiders on for a first round playoff date on Monday June 25th while the 4th seed will be hosted by the first place Albany Panthers on Saturday June 23rd.
This Saturday the first 1,000 fans in attendance will receive a free Lions Sports Bottle courtesy of Rivertown Ford. Gates open at 6:30 PM and for more ticket information contact the Lions front office at 706-322-3336 or log on to www.columbuslions.net.