Despite ugly offensive effort, Lions top Swashbucklers 45-42

Special to the Ledger-EnquirerApril 14, 2013 

The Columbus Lions' 45-42 victory over the Louisiana Swashbucklers Saturday night in Lake Charles, La., was a good-news, bad-news kind of win.

The good news is that Columbus (2-2) snapped a two-game losing streak by winning someplace it's never won and that the Lions' three-game road trip that included two bye weeks is finally over.

The bad news is that the Lions had three more turnovers, including two interceptions returned for touchdowns, making the game much closer than it probably had to be.

"I thought we played well defensively, but right after the game I was upset with how our offense played," said Lions coach Jason Gibson. "But once I calmed down a little, I realized that a win's a win in this league and everybody can beat everybody. There were some negative things that happened, but a win's a win."

Geoff Boyer, the new Lions kicker, started the game with an uno to give Columbus an early 1-0 lead, but a 46-yard interception return for a touchdown gave the Swashbucklers a 7-1 lead after the opening quarter.

The Lions were able to get some offense going in the second quarter, but still trailed 21-14 going into halftime and another interception return for a score gave Louisiana a 35-21 advantage in the third quarter.

However, Columbus started its comeback when quarterback Marcus Jones hooked up with Maurice Dupree for a touchdown pass to close the gap to 35-28 and a 1-yard touchdown run by Jones early in the fourth quarter tied the game at 35 early in the fourth period.

Later in the quarter, Jones and Dupree hooked up again for another touchdown to put Columbus up 42-35, but Louisiana (0-3) tied the game with a touchdown pass from Chris Mitchell to Cortland Bell with about seven minutes remaining.

The Lions were able to score last, though, as Boyer made a 30-yard field goal with about two minutes to go and Columbus got one last stop -- forcing a missed field goal -- to earn the victory and even its record.

"Against Alabama (last week), we weren't crisp and I think that not having a game in three weeks had a lot to do with it," said Gibson. "We still made mistakes this week, but it wasn't near as many."

Dupree was the offensive star of the game for the Lions, catching 15 passes for 230 yards and four touchdowns, three of which came in the second half. The Lions' defense created three turnovers, including a fumble recovery by current PIFL Defensive Player of the Week LeRoy Vann that set up the game-winning scoring drive.

Columbus now returns home to take on the league-leading Richmond (Va.) Raiders (3-1) Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and is the first of a two-game homestand for the Lions.

"When I looked at the schedule at the beginning of the year, I knew this was going to be a tough stretch," said Gibson. "I felt like if we could get through it and be at least 2-2, we could still be sitting pretty because you're supposed to win your home games. Winning on the road in this league is tough and now we have two in a row at home and hopefully that will put us in good shape."

The game is "Cancer Awareness Night" and the Lions will be wearing pink jerseys and using pink footballs. The jerseys and footballs will be auctioned off with a portion of the proceeds going towards cancer research.

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