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Columbus Lions host Carolina in rematch

Columbus Lions quarterback Bill Ashburn wanted to make the best of his first start since high school.

Last week, he led the Lions to a 50-49 come-from-behind victory over the Carolina Speed in his first start since his senior year of high school.

The former Louisville quarterback made up for some early miscues to finish with a rushing touchdown and five passing — including the winner to Gerald Gales with less than a minute to play.

“It felt good to be out there again,” Ashburn said. “Coach (Jason) Gibson gave me a good opportunity, and I wanted to go out there and execute.”

Today, when he gets his second start since he was a senior at Moon Senior High in Coraoplis, Pa., in 2002, Ashburn said the goal is the same, and he is prepared.

Ashburn signed with the Cleveland Gladiators of the Arena Football League last year but did not play. Instead of letting rust set in, Ashburn focused on the lessons he learned as a backup to Louisville’s Brian Brohm.

“I got a lot of experience behind Brian Brohm in college, and that paid off,” Ashburn said. “That experience has helped a lot.”

After Carolina (1-1) opened its season a week earlier than Columbus, the Lions (0-1) feel fortunate to have left Charlotte, N.C., with a victory in Week 2. Now, with players and coaches even more familiar with each other, the pressure is strong to repeat in the home opener for Columbus.

“Film, film, film. We’ve been watching so much film,” Gales said. “We’ve just been working to get ready. We know what we’re going to see, and we know all of their players now, and vice versa.

“We’re going to try to get ahead early and not make mistakes because, in this game, the team that makes the least amount of mistakes usually wins. We made a lot of mistakes the last game.”

The Lions will be without defensive lineman Franklin Lloyd, who injured a shoulder last week at Carolina. Lloyd could play this week, but the Lions opted for caution.

“I’d rather have him for 13 weeks than two more weeks,” Gibson said.

Bo May will start in his place today.