The Fayetteville Guard’s Walter Ford dragged in a 24-yard pass from quarterback Shawn Withy-Allan with 59 seconds left in the game Saturday to overtake the Columbus Lions 41-37.
The Lions fell to 5-2 with their only other loss coming against the South Division-leading Florence Phantoms. Fayetteville improved to 4-2 and sits in third in the South behind Florence and Columbus.
Neither team scored through the first quarter Saturday, but the Guard took the lead on a 3-yard pass from Withy-Allan to Tymere Zimmerman less than 20 seconds into the second period.
The Lions took advantage of the Guard’s missed point-after attempt to take a 7-6 lead less than two minutes later on a 20-yard pass from Bill Ashburn to Tirone Morris and a kick from Carlos Martinez.
Zimmerman gave the Guard the lead again, this time on a 4-yard reception, and the successful kick gave Fayetteville a 13-7 lead.
Columbus’ Troy Bergeron scored with just less five minutes to play in the half on a 30-yard catch and Martinez hit the point-after and then made a 25-yard field goal as time expired to put the Lions ahead 17-13 at halftime.
The Lions scored early in the third quarter on a 47-yard Martinez kick that put Columbus ahead 20-13 less than three minutes into the second half.
Fayetteville responded with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Jay Jackson to tie the game, but Ashburn scored on a 1-yard run keep the Lions back in front 27-20. The Guard again closed the gap with a 4-yard scoring pass to Ford with 1:15 remaining in the third quarter.
Most of the fourth quarter ticked by with the game tied 27-27 before Chris Johnson caught a 17-yard pass from Withy-Allan to put the Guard up 34-27 with just more than five minutes left in the game.
Columbus’ Troy Bergeron scored his second touchdown of the game three minutes later and Martinez’ kick again evened the game, but the Guard needed only a two-play, 30-yard drive capped by Ford’s 24-yard catch to put the game away.
Ashburn played the entire game for Columbus, finishing 15-for-31 with one interception and 160 yards. Bergeron led the Lions’ receivers with two touchdowns and a game-high 74 yards on six catches.
Morris finished with 62 yards receiving on four catches and Gerald Gales had 24 yards on five receptions.
Withy-Allan was sharp, completing 20 of 28 passes for 192 yards and six touchdowns.
The Guard’s defense held Columbus fullback Richard Fitzhugh to 11 yards on eight carries.
Columbus had 13 penalties that added up to a loss of 86 yards.
The Lions hosts the South Carolina Force at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.