The Florence Phantoms opened the season with momentum as the defending AIFA champions. It only took the Columbus Lions two weeks to catch up as they play their second road game of the season today in Florence, S.C.
The Lions have scored 118 points — just one behind the Baltimore Mariners and five behind the league-leading Carolina Speed — in their first two games while the Phantoms have posted 48, which places them just below the league’s 58-point average.
The Phantoms (1-1) are just 1-for-9 scoring touchdowns in the red zone and are leading the league with an average of 11 penalties per game.
The Lions took a come-from-behind victory two weeks ago at the Speed (1-2) and blew them out 68-37 in Columbus the next week. Columbus joined Baltimore as the only 2-0 teams in the AIFI with the victory. The Wyoming Cavalry and New Mexico Wildcats are undefeated at 1-0.
The Lions defense stands to take advantage of the Phantoms’ scoring rut if it continues.
In the first game of the season, Columbus’ defense held the Speed to nine second-half points and then allowed a single second-half touchdown a week later at home, where Lions defensive back Damian Daniels accounted for a pair of interceptions and defensive end Maurice Jones ran in an 11-yard fumble recovery.
Players and coaches said they were frustrated with sloppy offensive play after last week’s victory, and another week of practice with rookie quarterback Bill Ashburn and receiver Troy Bergeron, who signed just three days before the home opener, may have eliminated some of the problems.
The Phantoms, while struggling offensively, have given up only 50 total points in two games.