The Columbus Lions were their own worst enemies Saturday night in Lake Charles, La., allowing the Louisiana Swashbucklers to score three defensive touchdowns in a 61-57 loss, the Lions' second straight defeat after two straight wins.
Not all of the news coming out of Saturday night's game was bad, though, as Alabama's 57-40 loss to Richmond in Huntsville, Ala., allowed the Lions to clinch a spot in the Professional Indoor Football League playoffs, which will start June 21-24. With two games to go in the regular season, Columbus (5-5) is now tied for third place with Louisiana (5-5) in the PIFL standings, three games behind Richmond (8-2) and four behind Albany (9-1).
Columbus quarterback Randy Hippeard and wide receiver Maurice Dupree hooked up for five touchdowns in the first half, but the Swashbucklers scored on a 30-yard pass and then recovered a fumble in the end zone to go from being down 28-20 to up 34-28 midway through the second quarter.
However, Hippeard and Dupree connected on an 18-
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yard touchdown pass with 14 seconds left in the first half, and Chandler Brooks made the extra point along with an uno on the subsequent kickoff to send the Lions into the locker room with a 36-34 halftime lead.
Louisiana scored on a 28-yard interception return by Damien Huren to take a 40-36 lead early in the third quarter, but Columbus got back-to-back scores on touchdown passes to Gerald Gales and London Crawford to hold a 50-40 advantage with 13:18 remaining in the game. However, following an 8-yard touchdown pass from Fredd Harrison to Jordan Rideaux, the Lions' turnover woes struck again as Malcolm Tatum scooped up a fumble and returned it 19 yards for a touchdown to put Louisiana up 54-50 with 7:37 to go.
Columbus had one more scoring drive left, going 23 yards in three plays before Hippeard found Dupree one more time, this one for a 12-yard touchdown, and the Lions led 57-54 with 2:12 left.
The Swashbucklers responded with a scoring drive of their own, taking eight plays to go 25 yards, and Kendrick Perry finished it off on a 2-yard touchdown run with 4 seconds to go, putting Louisiana up 61-57.
The Lions had one final shot to tie or win the game, but Brooks' last-second field goal was wide left, leaving them with a second straight loss and a 9-hour bus ride to contemplate what might have been if not for the three defensive touchdowns by the Swashbucklers and the four Columbus turnovers (three fumbles, one interception) in the game.
Hippeard finished the game 24-for-38 passing for 294 yards, eight touchdowns and one interception. Dupree had eight catches for 155 yards and six touchdowns, and Crawford grabbed nine passes for 86 yards and one score. Gales added six receptions for 42 yards and a touchdown.
Derek Douglas was the leading tackler for the Lions with seven stops, including one tackle for a loss of 3 yards. The Lions' defense forced just one turnover, an interception by David Smith.
After going 1-2 on a three-game road swing, the Lions close the regular season with a two-game homestand, starting Saturday night against Albany. Kickoff at the Columbus Civic Center is scheduled for 7 p.m. The final game of the regular season is June 16 against the Knoxville Nighthawks.
Columbus 14 22 7 14--57
Louisiana 13 21 6 21--61
L--Blake Bercegeay 15 FG, 8:03
C--Maurice Dupree 26 pass from Randy Hippeard (Chandler Brooks kick), 6:55
L--Immanuel Friddle 30 pass from Fredd Harrison (Bercegeay kick), 5:58
C--Dupree 33 pass from Hippeard (Brooks kick), 4:30
L--Bercegeay 16 FG, 0:56
C--Dupree 29 pass from Hippeard (Brooks kick), 14:37
L--Friddle 30 pass from Harrison (Bercegeay kick), 12:58
C--Dupree 13 pass from Hippeard (Brooks kick), 9:58
L--Jordan Rideaux 30 pass from Harrison (Bercegeay kick), 8:28
L--Bryant Mason fumble recovery in end zone (Bercegeay kick), 6:05
C--Dupree 18 pass from Hippeardy (Brooks kick), 0:14
C--Brooks rouge, 0:14
L--Damien Huren 28 interception return (pass failed), 10:52
C--Gerald Gales 19 pass from Hippeard (Brooks kick), 8:26
C--London Crawford 21 pass from Hippeard (Brooks kick), 13:18
L--Rideaux 8 pass from Harrison (Bercegeay kick), 10:17
L--Malcolm Tatum 19 fumble recovery (Bercegeay kick), 7:37
C--Dupree 12 pass from Hippeard (Brooks kick), 2:12
L--Kendrick Perry 2 run (Bercegeay kick), 0:04