Lions down Raiders 42-21 behind defense

Lions defense holds Raiders to 187 yards

Special to the Ledger-EnquirerApril 5, 2014 

Last week, the Columbus Lions defense was torched for 71 points and 10 total touchdowns by quarterback E.J. Nemeth in a season-opening loss to the Harrisburg (Pa.) Stampede.

Saturday night at the Columbus Civic Center, the Lions showed they'd learned their lesson as they held the Richmond (Va.) Raiders to just 187 total yards and forced three turnovers in a 42-21 victory.

"Our main focus this week was not letting something like last week happen again," said Lions linebacker Justen Rivers.

"We took (the Harrisburg) loss personally. We wanted to come out and play better than we did last week and we did that."

The Lions offense started slowly, with a missed field goal and an interception on their first two possessions, but Richmond was only able to get a 22-yard field goal by T.C. Stevens out of the stops to take a 3-0 lead midway through the first quarter.

Columbus (1-1) got things going on its next drive, as Antwon Young hit Earl Alexander for a 31-yard gain to convert on a third-and-10 and finished things off with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Gerald Gales to put the Lions up 7-3 with 2:23 remaining in the first period.

Rivers recovered a Richmond fumble on the Raiders' 9-yard line on their next possession and Columbus cashed it in.

On fourth-and-goal at the Richmond 2, Young found fullback Kendrick Perry in the back of the end zone with a 2-yard touchdown pass to put the Lions up 14-3 after the opening quarter.

Neither team did anything offensively in the second quarter, with the Lions missing two field goals and turning the ball over on downs once and Richmond missing field goals on all three of its possessions.

Columbus led 14-3 at halftime despite totaling just 80 offensive yards on its 31 plays and 31 of those 80 yards came on the pass from Young to Alexander.

Young was 7-for-18 for 86 yards in the first half with two touchdowns and an interception and was sacked four times for losses totaling 26 yards.

The Lions were 2-for-8 on third-down conversions and only scored twice on five red-zone opportunities.

One bright spot was that the Columbus defense did hold Richmond (0-2) to only 57 total yards on 21 plays in the first half.

They harassed Raiders quarterback Malik White into going only 6-of-14 for 44 yards in the opening two quarters.

Richmond failed to convert on any of its five third-down conversions and was in the Lions' red zone just two times, scoring once.

"The effort was there for us defensively," said Lions coach Jason Gibson, who is now 66-34 in seven-plus seasons. "We wanted to win the game, but we also wanted the guys to give a good effort. They did that for us tonight."

In the third quarter, the Lions' Jerry Willis sacked White in the end zone for a safety to make it 16-3 and on Columbus' next possession Young found Alexander for a 28-yard touchdown pass to give the Lions a 22-3 lead just 2:23 into the second half.

However, that was it scoring-wise for Columbus in the quarter and Richmond was able to trim the margin to 22-9 on a 26-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Steffan Colon to Hakeem Moore.

Early in the fourth quarter, the Raiders closed to within 22-15 following a 6-yard touchdown pass from Colon to Derrick Hector.

However, Rivers blocked the extra point to keep the Lions' lead at seven points with 14:14 to go in the game. Columbus responded on its next drive with a 9-yard touchdown pass from Young to Jarmon Fortson and following a turnover on downs at the Raiders' 9, Perry scored on a 9-yard run to give the Lions a comfortable 36-15 lead with 5:24 to go.

The Columbus defense got into the scoring act on Richmond's next possession, as former Raider Roshawn Marshall picked off Colon and returned it 57 yards for a touchdown to make it 42-15 Columbus with just 1:28 to go.

Despite the wide margin of victory, the Lions finished with only 188 yards of offense on 55 plays and converted 3-of-12 third downs and 4-of-9 trips into the Richmond red zone.

For the game, Young went 17-for-35 for 191 yards and four touchdowns despite being sacked five times and picked off once.

Fortson was Young's top target with six catches for 53 yards and a touchdown. Perry added 30 yards and a score on 10 carries along with four receptions for 33 yards and a touchdown in the win.

The Richmond quarterback tandem of Colon and White was 15-for-33 for 143 yards with two interceptions and they were sacked three times by the Lions' defense. Richmond was 0-for-7 on third downs and was penalized nine times for 59 yards in the loss as well.

The Lions are back in action Friday, hosting the Georgia Fire (1-0) at 7 p.m.

The Fire is a new team in the Professional Indoor Football League this season, having replaced the Lions' former rivals, the Albany Panthers.

Saturday at Columbus Civic Center

Columbus 42, Richmond 21

Richmond 3 0 6 12--21

Columbus 14 0 8 20--42

First Quarter

Rich - T.C. Stevens 22 FG, 5:58.

Col - Gerald Gales 15 pass from Antwon Young (Craig Camay kick), 2:23.

Col - Kendrick Perry 2 pass from Young (Camay kick), 0:00.

Third Quarter

Col - Safety (Malik White sacked in end zone), 14:00.

Col - Earl Alexander 28 pass from Young (Kick failed), 12:37.

Rich - Hakeem Moore 26 pass from Steffan Colon (Kick failed), 9:04.

Fourth Quarter

Rich - Derrick Hector 6 pass from Colon (Kick failed), 14:14.

Col - Jarmon Fortson 9 pass from Young (Camay kick), 8:58.

Col - Perry 9 run (Camay kick), 5:24.

Col - Roshawn Marshall 57 interception return (Kick failed), 1:28.

Rich - Moore 14 pass from Colon (Kick failed), 0:01.

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