The Columbus Lions got the first word and the last word Saturday, but little in between belonged to them as the Baltimore Mariners rolled to a 52-32 victory in Baltimore.
Columbus kicker Carlos Martinez hit an uno on the opening kickoff, giving the Lions (7-3) a 1-0 lead before the clock even had started, and Columbus scored the final two touchdowns of the game in roughly the final five minutes. Baltimore (5-4), however, outscored Columbus through the first three quarters and made up for April’s embarrassing 82-19 loss in Columbus.
The Mariners marched the ball down the field for a 3-yard touchdown run on their first possession, and defensive back Richard Johnson picked off Columbus quarterback Kevin Huff and returned the ball 27 yards to give Baltimore a 14-1 lead less than halfway through the opening quarter.
Columbus fullback Richard Fitzhugh scored on a 1-yard rush with 1:30 left in the quarter, and a failed Martinez extra point left the Lions trailing 14-7.
Baltimore scored three touchdowns and an uno in just more than five minutes, and Columbus answered with only a 27-yard touchdown pass from Huff to Jawarski Pollack and a 34-yard Martinez field goal before halftime.
Baltimore led 36-16 at the break.
Martinez hit his second field goal of the game late in the third quarter, this one from 42 yards, but the next three scores — two touchdowns and a safety — belonged to the Mariners.
Lions receiver Gerald Gales hauled in a pass from backup quarterback Todd Spitzer from 8 yards out with 5:12 remaining in the game, and the Lions’ Justen Rivers recovered a Baltimore fumble in Lions territory to set up a drive that culminated in a 5-yard Spitzer touchdown run with less than a minute to play. Spitzer’s two-point conversion attempt failed, leaving Columbus trailing 52-32.
The Mariners defense limited Columbus to 14 yards rushing on eight attempts, with Fitzhugh leading the charge with six yards on six carries. Huff was 11-for-27 passing with two interceptions, 155 yards and a touchdown, and Spitzer was 2-for-3 with 25 yards and a touchdown. Pollack’s 85 yards receiving was a game high.
Baltimore’s Isaiah Grier scored three rushing touchdowns to finish with 57 of the Mariners’ 76 rushing yards. Quarterback Earnest Nemeth was 12-for-23 for 138 yards and three touchdowns. Receiver Scorpio Brown accounted for three touchdowns and 56 yards receiving.
The Lions return to Columbus to host the Florence Phantoms (6-3) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
Contact Chris White at 706-571-8571
Saturday at Baltimore
Columbus 7 9 3 13—32
Baltimore 14 22 7 9—52
C – Carlos Martinez uno, 15:00
B – Isaiah Grier 3 run (Gary Cipra kick), 11:25
B – Richard Johnson 27 interception return (Cipra kick), 9:16
C – Richard Fitzhugh 1 run (kick failed), 1:30
B – Grier 3 run (Cirpa kick), 5:23
B – Scorpio Brown 40 pass from Earnest Nemeth (Cipra kick), 3:00
B – Cipra uno, 2:29
C – Jawarski Pollack 27 pass from Kevin Huff (kick blocked), :45
B – Grier Isaiah 3 run (Cipra kick), :19
C – Martinez 34 field goal, :00
C – Martinez 42 field goal, 5:31
B – Brown 14 pass from Nemeth (Cipra kick), 3:02
B – Fearon Wright safety, 14:01
B – Brown 2 pass from Nemeth (Cipra kick), 7:02
C – Gerald Gales 8 pass from Todd Spitzer (Martinez kick), 5:12
C – Spitzer 5 run (pass failed), :52