Indoor football isn't a game that usually lends itself to a power game, but it was power football that propelled the Columbus Lions to a 54-42 victory over the Lehigh Valley (Pa.) Steelhawks Saturday night at the Columbus Civic Center.
Columbus running back Kendrick Perry set a Professional Indoor Football League record with 21 carries, two better than the old record of 19 that was set earlier this season. Perry finished the game with 84 yards and two touchdowns, scoring the Lions' first and next-to-last touchdown of the game.
Along with Perry's bruising ground game, Columbus used mostly short and medium-range passes with quarterback Chris McCoy, who went 12-for-23 for 155 yards and three touchdowns in his second start in place of Antwon Young, who tore his ACL in the Lions' loss at Alabama two weeks ago.
The Lions' defense did its fair share, getting three takeaways, and holding Lehigh Valley scoreless in the third quarter. It was the first time since the season opener against Richmond back on April 5 that Columbus had held an opponent scoreless in a quarter, a span of 24 quarters -- or the equivalent of six full games.
Quarterback Danny O'Brien, who signed with Lions earlier this week, left the team after signing with Ottawa of the CFL on Thursday. The Lions did not announce his departure until just before game time.
The win also snapped a two-game losing streak for the Lions, who hadn't won since April 26 due to a pair of bye weeks and road losses at division rivals Alabama and Nashville. It also pulls the Lions to within 1 1/2 games of Nashville, which leads the American Conference of the PIFL standings with a 5-2 record.
Columbus (4-4) took a 24-21 lead into halftime when McCoy found Jarmon Fortson for a 5-yard touchdown pass that capped off a two-play, 27-yard drive in the final minute of the second quarter. McCoy started the game 3-for-10 passing, but hit his final four passes of the first half to finish the opening two quarters 7-for-14 for 83 yards and a score.
Before the pass from McCoy to Fortson, the Lions and Steelhawks traded touchdowns on their first two possessions of the game, leaving the score 14-all with 13 minutes to go in the second quarter. Craig Camay made a 27-yard field goal to put Columbus ahead 17-14 and Roshawn Marshall picked off Adam Bednarik to give the Lions a stop, but they turned the ball over on downs at the Lehigh Valley 16-yard line.
The Steelhawks (4-4) -- losers of four straight since a 4-0 start -- pieced together a six-play, 35 yard drive that Bednarik capped off with a 1-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-goal and Michael Barnard made his third extra point in as many tries to give Lehigh Valley a 21-17 lead with 33 seconds to go in the half. That was when the Lions got their quick touchdown from McCoy to Fortson to lead at the break.
Columbus made good use of Perry, as he had 10 carries for 42 yards and a touchdown and also caught a 19-yard pass in the first half as the Lions had 126 yards on their 25 plays.
Bednarik was more accurate for Lehigh Valley, going 10-for-15 for 109 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Columbus is back in action next Saturday, hosting the Alabama Hammers. Kickoff at the Civic Center is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Saturday at Columbus Civic CenterLehigh Valley 7 14 0 21--42
Columbus 14 10 10 20--54First Quarter
Col - Kendrick Perry 4 run (Kick failed), 9:52.
LV - Richie Martin 20 pass from Adam Bednarik (Michael Barnard kick), 5:46.
Col - Chris McCoy 1 run (Craig Camay kick), 2:33.
Col - Camay Uno, 2:33.
LV - Brandon Renford 14 pass from Bednarik (Barnard kick), 13:00.
Col - Camay 27 FG, 8:43.
LV - Bednarik 1 run (Barnard kick), 0:33.
Col - Jarmon Fortson 5 pass from McCoy (Camay kick), 0:12.
Col - Camay 26 FG, 12:34.
Col - LeRoy Vann 8 run (Camay kick), 7:31.
Col - Fortson 15 pass from McCoy (Camay kick), 13:24.
LV - Martin 36 pass from Shane McSweeney (Barnard kick), 9:30.
Col - Perry 2 run (Camay kick), 7:36.
Col - Fortson 15 pass from McCoy (Kick blocked), 4:29.
LV - Martin 17 pass from McSweeney (Barnard kick), 3:22.
LV - Renford 43 pass from McSweeney (Barnard kick), 0:12.