The Columbus Lions may have finally found themselves a quarterback.
Brian Harris -- signed this week to provide competition for incumbent starter Marcus Jones -- led a furious fourth-quarter comeback and the Lions' defense got one final stop to give Columbus a come-from-behind 48-42 victory over the Richmond Raiders Saturday night at the Columbus Civic Center.
The Lions (3-2) trailed 42-27 with 9:32 to go in the game, but Columbus scored the final 21 points -- all on touchdown passes by Harris -- to earn a victory in its first home game in six weeks.
Harris entered the game in the third quarter and went 11-for-14 for 124 yards and four touchdowns in less than a half of work after Jones was just 6-for-18 for 55 yards with two touchdowns and an interception before being benched.
Columbus' comeback started with a 23-yard touchdown pass from Harris to Gerald Gales -- who had nine catches for 128 yards and four scores -- to pull the Lions back to within 42-33 with 6:08 to go. The Lions' defense then forced a missed field goal and Harris hooked up with LeRoy Vann on a 6-yard touchdown pass to make it 42-40 with 2:06 remaining.
Richmond (3-2) -- which had a three-game winning streak snapped -- went for it on fourth down on its next drive and the Lions' defense held, giving Columbus the ball at midfield with 48 seconds left.
After two incomplete passes and a pass interference call on the Raiders, Harris found Gales again for a 15-yard touchdown pass with 19 seconds to go. Columbus went for the two-point conversion and wideout Daniel Lee -- making his first appearance of the season for the Lions -- snagged a pass from Harris to make it 48-42 Columbus.
After the Lions' kickoff, Richmond took over on its own 20. The Raiders -- aided by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty -- drove to the Columbus 8-yard line. Richmond quarterback Warren Smith threw an incomplete pass and on the game's final play, Smith's pass to the end zone was jarred free by the Lions' defense to preserve the hard-fought victory.
Columbus took a 21-20 lead into halftime despite scoring zero points on two Richmond turnovers. Richmond scored first on an 8-yard pass from Warren Smith to Hakim Moore, but Marcus Jones replied with a 1-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 7 with 9:49 to go in the first quarter.
The Raiders' Mike Jones -- the leading rusher in the PIFL -- got his first touchdown of the game to put Richmond up, 14-7, but Marcus Jones and Gales hooked up on a 25-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 14 after the opening 15 minutes.
After the teams traded the ball for most of the second quarter, Mike Jones scored again on a 7-yard run, but the extra point bounced off the upright, leaving the Raiders only up 20-14. Columbus replied with a six-play, 40-yard scoring drive that Marcus Jones capped off with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Gales. Geoff Boyer's extra point was good and the Lions took a 21-20 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Columbus is home again next week, as the Lions host the Louisiana Swashbucklers. Kickoff Saturday night is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
at Columbus Civic Center
Richmond 14 6 13 9--42
Columbus 14 7 6 21--48
Rich--Hakim Moore 8 pass from Warren Smith (T.C. Stevens kick), 12:35.
Col--Marcus Jones 1 run (Geoff Boyer kick), 9:49.
Rich--Mike Jones 4 run (Stevens kick), 6:17.
Col--Gerald Gales 25 pass from Jones (Boyer kick), 3:13.
Rich--M. Jones 7 run (Kick failed), 4:34.
Col--Gales 14 pass from Jones (Boyer kick), 1:00.
Rich--M. Jones 2 run (Kick failed), 10:14.
Rich--Smith 2 run (Stevens kick), 5:15.
Col--Jarmon Fortson 16 pass from Brian Harris (Kick failed), 1:21.
Rich--Safety (Intentional grounding in end zone), 13:45.
Rich--Smith 2 run (Stevens kick), 9:32.
Col--Gales 23 pass from Harris (Kick failed), 6:08.
Col--LeRoy Vann 6 pass from Harris (Boyer kick), 2:06.
Col--Gales 15 pass from Harris (Daniel Lee pass from Harris), 0:19.