Lions post lowest point output by any PIFL team in last two seasons
By JOSEPH MYERS
Special to the Ledger-Enquirer
One touchdown. Four interceptions. Only 15 points scored, none in the second half.
Those numbers said it all for the Columbus Lions Saturday night, as they fell 35-15 to the Albany Panthers at the Columbus Civic Center to eliminate themselves from Professional Indoor Football League playoff contention.
The 15 points scored is the lowest output by any PIFL team in the last two seasons and the Columbus quarterback duo of Lee Chapple and Marcus Jones were just 8-for-23 for 64 yards, four interceptions and no touchdowns in the game.
Things got off to an inauspicious start for Columbus (4-7), as the Lions turned the ball over on their first two possessions of the game.
On the first play from scrimmage, Chapple was sacked and fumbled the ball, which was recovered by Albany at the Lions' 1-yard line. One play later, quarterback Cecil Lester scored on a 1-yard run to give Albany a 7-0 lead just 1:33 into the game.
The Lions drove to Albany's 10 on their next possession, but Chapple was picked off at the 1. However, on the next play, Columbus got a safety to trim the deficit to 7-2 with 9 minutes left in the opening quarter.
After the Panthers' free
kick, Columbus marched down the field and scored on a 3-yard touchdown run by Gerald Harris. Craig Camay's extra point was good and the Lions led 9-7.
On Albany's subsequent possession, Jarmon Fortson picked off a Lester pass and Columbus moved the ball inside the Panthers' 5-yard line, but had to settle for a 20-yard field goal by Camay, giving the Lions a 12-7 lead after one quarter.
The teams then traded stops before Albany (6-4) put together a five-play, 40-yard drive that was capped off by another 1-yard touchdown run by Lester. Ryan Gates made the extra point to give the Panthers a 14-12 lead midway through the second quarter.
Columbus took the lead, 15-14, on a 16-yard field goal by Camay on its next drive, but again the Lions had to settle for three points after getting the ball inside the Panthers' 5-yard line.
Albany had a chance to take the lead into halftime, driving to the Columbus 5, but the Lions batted down passes at the line of scrimmage on consecutive plays to end the half and send the Lions into the locker room with a 15-14 advantage.
Anthony Shutt intercepted a pass for the Lions on Albany's first drive of the second half, but Columbus turned the ball over on downs at the Panthers' 5-yard line, making three times the Lions were inside the Panthers' 5 without a touchdown.
Albany went right back down the field and scored on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Cecil Lester to Johnny Lester. Ryan Gates made the extra point to put the Panthers up 21-15 late in the third quarter.
The next three possessions -- two for Columbus and one for Albany -- all ended in interceptions before the Panthers got a 3-yard touchdown run by Derrick Wimbush to go up 28-15 with 10:27 to go in the game.
Needing touchdowns to get back into the game, Columbus went for it on fourth down at its own 9-yard line and missed it, giving Albany the ball in prime field position. Four plays later, Clenton Rafe caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from Cecil Lester and Gates nailed the PAT to make it 35-15 with 5:21 to go and close out the scoring.
The Lions forced Cecil Lester (29-for-49, 254 yards, 2 TD) into throwing three interceptions and lead the PIFL in takeaways (30), but they had four more turnovers and now have a league-high 32 for the season.
After a week off, Columbus closes out its season June 22 on the road at Albany. Kickoff for that game at the Albany Civic Center is set for 7:30 p.m.
Saturday at Columbus Civic Center
Albany 7 7 7 14 --35
Columbus 12 3 0 0 --15
Alb--Cecil Lester 1 run (Ryan Gates kick), 13:27.
Col--Safety (Running back tackled in end zone), 9:00.
Col--Gerald Harris 3 run (Craig Camay kick), 6:10.
Col--Camay 20 FG, 1:40.
Alb--Lester 1 run (Gates kick), 5:23.
Col--Camay 16 FG, 1:39.
Alb--Johnny Lester 12 pass from C. Lester (Gates kick), 2:54.
Alb--Derrick Wimbush 3 run (Gates kick), 10:27.
Alb--Clenton Rafe 5 pass from C. Lester (Gates kick), 5:21.