Columbus Lions work on improving their offense

Columbus won last week on strength of its defense

Special To The Ledger-EnquirerApril 10, 2014 

Wins tend to cure whatever ails a football team, but don't tell Columbus Lions coach Jason Gibson that.

"Practice this week has been a little better, but we can't be satisfied with one win," said Gibson, whose team hosts the Georgia Fire at The Columbus Civic Center tonight at 7. "I don't want our guys to get comfortable and get complacent."

The Lions (1-1) are coming off a 42-21 victory over the Richmond (Va.) Raiders in their home-opener last weekend. Columbus mustered just 187 yards of total offense, but the Lions' defense -- which was torched for 71 points in a season-opening loss to the Harrisburg (Pa.) Stampede a week earlier -- picked up the slack by forcing three Richmond turnovers and giving up just three touchdowns to the Raiders.

"After (losing at Harrisburg), we concentrated all week on defense and I think it showed," Gibson said. "We managed to win even though we didn't have a good game offensively or on special teams. Now we just have to pick up the offense."

Columbus got a solid game from quarterback Antwon Young, who was 17-for-35 for 191 yards and four touchdowns in his second game as the Lions' signal-caller, and running back Kendrick Perry filled the stat sheet with 10 carries for 30 yards and a touchdown along with four receptions for another 33 yards and a score. However, it took the Lions 55 plays to get their 188 yards -- an average of just 3.4 yards per play -- and Young was sacked five times, so there's still work to be done.

While Columbus will be looking to get its offense going tonight against the Fire (1-0), Georgia -- an expansion team in the Professional Indoor Football League -- is aiming for its second straight victory after knocking off the Alabama Hammers, 67-65, in Rome, Ga. last weekend. Georgia was added to the PIFL after the Albany (Ga.) folded earlier this year.

In that game, Fire quarterback Cecil Lester went 23-for-37 for 317 yards and the duo of Antwontis Cutts and John Harris combined for 15 catches for 197 yards and two touchdowns. However, it was Georgia's defense that preserved the win for the Fire, as they stopped a two-point conversion by the Hammers -- the PIFL's defending league champions -- in the game's final minute to give the franchise a victory in its first-ever game.

"Georgia is an expansion team, but they're not an expansion team," said Gibson. "They have half of Albany's team from last year and play with a lot of heart. They have a good quarterback, some good players on defense and just got done beating the league champions. Our hands are going to be full. We've got several guys hurting right now and that's not good for Week 2 of the season."

The game is also crucial in the PIFL's American Conference standings, as Columbus and Georgia are both chasing the Nashville (Tenn.) Venom (2-0) for the top spot in the division. The top two teams from the American Conference and National Conference will advance to the PIFL's playoffs after 12 regular-season games.

"If we're going to win, we have to be more efficient offensively," Gibson said. "We have to maintain the same fire and emphasis on defense and I think if we do that, we'll be fine. We won last week without doing well on offense and special teams -- and all wins are good wins -- but we need to pick up our game in those phases if we want to win (tonight)."

After tonight's game, the Lions will hit the road again to take on the Trenton (N.J.) Freedom -- another PIFL expansion team -- on April 19. Kickoff for that game at the Sun National Bank Center is set for 7 p.m. The next home game for Columbus will be against the Georgia Fire on April 26 with a 7 p.m. kickoff time at The Columbus Civic Center.

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