NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Kenny Veal picked off a pass in the end zone with less than a minute to play to secure Nashville's 44-39 victory over Columbus in the PIFL semifinals on Saturday night.
With the win, the Venom will host Lehigh Valley in Saturday's PIFL championship game. Lehigh Valley upset Trenton in the other semifinal, which gave the Lions a chance to host the title game if they had beaten the Venom.
In the first half, it looked like the Lions would pull off their own upset, taking a 24-10 lead. But the Venom rallied to pull within six, 27-21, by halftime.
Nashville controlled most of the second half, taking a 44-30 lead on Jordan Jolly's touchdown catch early in the fourth quarter and a rouge.
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But the Lions rallied. Kendrick Perry scored on a 3-yard touchdown run to cut the deficit to seven, 44-37 with 9:31 left. Then Venom quarterback Charles McCullum was called for intentional grounding, which counted as a safety and two points for the Lions.
The Lions' final two possessions in the game resulted in a fumble and an interception.
Halpin finished the game 14-of-34 for 206 yards.
Tione Morris led the Lions' receivers with six catches for 87 yards.
The Venom got on the board first on a Christian Reed field goal. Halpin ran in for a score from 2 yards out and a 7-3 lead.
After Jolly scored for a 10-7 Venom lead, the Lions scored the next 17 points. Perry had a rushing touchdown and Morris caught a 29-yard TD pass from Halpin.
Morris' TD catch came with 10:01 left in the second quarter. The Lions would not reach the end zone again until Perry's score with 9:31 left in the game. They had to settle for three field goals in between.