Explosive first half leads the Lions to victory against the Flight

by Alex Husting

In their second road game of the season, the Columbus Lions improved to 2-1 on the season after dismantling Jersey Flight in a 49-15 victory. The Lions defense dominated in the first half forcing turnover after turnover and the offense capitalized and they entered halftime with a 42-0 victory.

The Lions received the opening kickoff and marched down the field in methodical fashion, reaching the end zone after Mason Espinosa took the direct snap up the middle for a one yard score. 

The offense during the opening drive looked a little different as fullback Tiberias Lampkin was notably absent from the backfield. Mason Espinosa later revealed in a postgame interview that Lampkin’s wife actually went into labor and he wasn’t able to make the trip with the team to New Jersey. 

Filling in for Lampkin at fullback was defensive lineman Corey Crawford who essentially served as additional blocking for Espinosa but he was even featured in a few passing plays as well.

Following the Lions opening touchdown the Flight and quarterback Warren Smith moved the football down the field and even got inside the 10 before turning it over on downs after a number of big stops from the Lions defense.

Espinosa got his second touchdown of the day on the ensuing drive with a dart to Desmond Reece near the wall to put the Lions up 14 at the end of the first quarter. The Flight needed to respond quickly and the following drive became a theme of the first half.

The Flight once again turned the ball over on downs as the Lions defense was stifling everything that the former NAL MVP was throwing their way. 

Already inside the 20, the Lions wasted no time and Espinosa found Lonnie Outlaw for the third touchdown of the day for Columbus and the Lions were up 20-0 early in the second quarter. Ryan Gates actually missed his first kick of the season on the extra point attempt but that would be the only special teams mistake for the Lions and Gates was perfect the rest of the way.

There were six more drives during the first half and it was complete domination from the Lions on offense and on the defensive side of the ball as well. The Flight turned it over on three consecutive drives with three fumbles, including recoveries by Lenroy Neysmith and Kewan Alfred along with a forced fumble on a sack from Ken Washington. The Lions followed each turnover with a touchdown from Mason Espinosa: one to Sam Dobbs, one to Desmond Reece and one to Romond Deloatch to end the half. The Lions headed to the locker room with a 42 point lead and all the momentum.

The start of the second half was more of the same with yet another mishandled snap by Smith and another recovery by the swarming Lions defense. With a short field, the Lions offense easily moved down the field and capped off another scoring drive with Espinosa’s second rushing touchdown of the day. 

At this point the result was all but officially and after another fumble from the Flight, Mason Espinosa fumbled the football on a sack, giving it right back to the Flight. On the next Lions possession, backup quarterback Chase Fourcade stepped in to prevent Espinosa from suffering any injuries as a comeback from the Flight seemed highly improbable late in the third quarter. 

The Flight were able to get on the board late in the third and reached the end zone twice, even going for a two-point conversion and making it on their final touchdown. 

The Lions got their first road win of the season in dominant fashion with the high powered offense once again finding success all over the field. Mason Espinosa continues to execute at a high level with seven total touchdowns in the victory as his talented group of receivers allowed the quarterback to spread the ball around with four different receivers getting touchdown catches.

The defense had its best performance of the season and seems to be finding a groove in the last two games. After allowing 92 points in the first six quarters of the 2021 season, the Lions defense has held opponents to just 28 points in the last six quarters of play.

Following the season opening loss to the Empire, the Lions have bounced back with two impressive victories and after some more time to mesh, the team seems to be clicking on all cylinders. 

The Lions will return to Columbus on June 19 against the Jacksonville Sharks. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. EST. The game can be watched live with CTV Beam, at https://www.nationalarenaleague.com/home or on the NAL’s official Youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSzSD8STXiEVPVtUDO9juhA


The Columbus Lions are members of the National Arena League (NAL). Founded in 2007, the Columbus Lions are starting their 15th season in 2021. The Lions are a 3x league champion and 13 playoff appearances in their rich history. The Lions play their home games at Hughston Field in the Columbus Civic Center. Lions Season Ticket Memberships are on sale now call (706) 322-3336 or visit columbuslions.com. Follow the Lions on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Lionsfootball/, twitter @columbuslions and instagram.com/Columbuslions.


The National Arena League was founded in 2016 and hosted its inaugural season in 2017 as the premier league in arena football. The National Arena League will kick off its fifth season in 2021. For more information regarding expansion opportunities or partnerships, contact Commissioner Chris Siegfried at chris@nationalarenaleague.com For more information about the NAL visit www.nationalarenaleague.com, facebook.com/nationalarenaleauge, twitter.com/NALfootball, Instagram.com/nationalarenaleague.