The Columbus Lions needed a game like this.
After playing nip-and-tuck games in their first four contests, the Lions finally got a comfortable win Saturday night, racing out to a 40-18 halftime lead en route to a 75-61 victory over the Louisiana Swashbucklers at the Columbus Civic Center.
Columbus scored the first 14 points of the game -- on a 19-yard touchdown pass from Randy Hippeard to Gerald Gales and a 8-yard pass from Hippeard to Maurice Dupree -- and led 22-3 after one quarter. The Lions' other score came on a 10-yard pass from Hippeard to Crawford while newly re-signed kicker Trey Crum made three extra points and added an uno as well.
A 16-yard touchdown pass from Hippeard to Crawford and another Crum uno made it 30-3 early in the second quarter before Louisiana scored nine straight points to close to within 30-12 with 2:36 to go before halftime. Dupree and Hippeard hooked up again for a 40-yard touchdown pass to make it 37-12, but the Swashbucklers (1-3) responded with a score of their own on a 22-yard pass from Sammie Knight to Freddie Harrison with 29 seconds remaining.
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However, Crum closed out the half with a 21-yard field goal to send the Lions into the locker room with a 22-point advantage at 40-18. Hippeard was 17-for-22 for 184 yards and five touchdowns in the opening two quarters, with Crawford catching eight passes for 87 yards and two touchdowns.
Gales had five receptions for 41 yards and a score and Dupree caught four passes for 56 yards and two touchdowns.
On Louisiana's opening possession of the second half, Derrick Crawford picked off Knight and Hippeard found Dupree for a 17-yard touchdown pass to put the Lions up 47-18. Crum followed with another uno -- his third of the game -- to make it 48-18 Columbus with 12:50 to go in the third quarter.
The teams traded touchdowns, with the Lions' score coming on a 27-yard pass from Hippeard to Gales, before Carver High graduate Jeff Lemon returned a pooch kickoff 25 yards for a touchdown to send the Lions into the fourth quarter with a 61-32 advantage.
Hippeard had one more touchdown pass to Dupree, this one covering 17 yards, and Gales returned a kickoff 12 yards for another score in the fourth quarter as the Lions matched Louisiana score for score to maintain a comfortable lead.
Gales' touchdown made it 75-46 with 6:27 remaining before the Swashbucklers scored the game's final 15 points to make the score respectable.
Columbus (3-2) is on the road next week, traveling to Albany to take on the first-place Albany Panthers. Kickoff for the April 21 game is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Saturday at Columbus Civic Center
Louisiana 3 15 14 29--61
Columbus 22 18 21 14--75
C--Gerald Gales 19 pass from Randy Hippeard (Trey Crum kick), 13:04.
C--Maurice Dupree 8 pass from Hippeard (Crum kick), 9:57.
L--Blake Bercegeay 16 FG, 5:49.
C--London Crawford 10 pass from Hippeard (Crum kick), 1:22.
C--Crum Uno, 1:22.
C--Crawford 16 pass from Hippeard (Crum kick), 10:20.
C--Crum Uno, 10:20.
L--Safety, Holding in end zone, 5:30.
L--Kendrick Perry 12 run (Bercegay kick), 2:36.
C--Dupree 40 pass from Hippeard (Crum kick), 0:53.
L--Sammie Knight 22 pass from Freddie Harrison (Kick failed), 0:29.
C--Crum 21 FG, 0:00.
C--Dupree 17 pass from Hippeard (Crum kick), 12:50.
C--Crum Uno, 12:50.
L--Knight 3 run (Terrell McGill pass from Knight), 3:29.
C--Gales 27 pass from Hippeard (Pass failed), 1:22.
L--Immanuel Friddle 45 pass from Knight (Run failed), 0:11.
C--Jeff Lemon 25 kickoff return (Crum kick), 0:00.
L--Perry 1 run (Perry run), 12:14.
C--Dupree 17 pass from Hippeard (Crum kick), 8:50.
L--Friddle 18 pass from Knight (Run failed), 6:55.
C--Gales 12 kickoff return (Crum kick), 6:27.
L--Perry 14 pass from Knight (Friddle pass from Knight), 2:56.
L--Bercegeay Uno, 2:56.
L--Friddle 10 pass from Knight (Kick failed), 0:53.