If you're on the Columbus Lions' roster, and especially if you're a defensive player, you're on notice:
Step up your game, or you might not be a Lion much longer.
That was the message Columbus coach Jason Gibson had following his team's 75-61 victory over the Louisiana Swashbucklers Saturday night at the Columbus Civic Center.
"For about three quarters, we played well," Gibson said. "But we lost some guys with injuries, and we just can't finish games well. I'm really disappointed we gave up 61 points tonight."
Columbus was up 75-46 with 6:27 to go in the game following a 12-yard kickoff return by Gerald Gales, but Louisiana scored the game's final 15 points to make the game appear closer than it really was or probably should have been. Gibson was especially unhappy that the Lions had given up only 18 points in the first half and didn't allow the Swashbucklers to score their first touchdown of the game until after the Lions held a 30-5 advantage.
"I think we're out of shape on the defensive side of the ball, and our personnel aren't getting the job done," Gibson said. "We can't keep doing the same thing over and over again and expect different results. That's the definition of insanity. There's definitely going to be some personnel changes."
A bright spot in the win was the play of kicker Trey Crum, who made nine extra points, three unos and a field goal for a total of 15 points. Coming into the game, the Lions were just 1-of-4 on field goals and had missed eight extra points in their first four games.
"I knew coming in that our offense would be able to score about 60 points," Gibson said. "Even with two wide receivers with ankle injuries, we were able to do that. (Crum) made a big difference out there for us. He scored 15 points, and we had 75 total. Our defense gave up 61, so (Crum) pretty much made the difference in the game.
"Watching our guys on the sideline react to what he was doing was special. It was like they were all saying, 'Great! We've finally got a kicker.'"
Up next: The Lions travel to Albany to face the unbeaten Panthers (4-0) Saturday at 7 p.m. Albany blew open a close game in the second half to steamroll the winless Knoxville Nighthawks (0-4), 59-10, Saturday night in Knoxville. After the road game in Albany, Columbus is off until May 6, when the Lions host Albany in a Sunday matinee game at the Columbus Civic Center. Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m.