ALBANY, Ga. -- Lavance Richmond's 50-yard interception return for a touchdown on the game's first play was a tone-setter for the Albany Panther's 57-40 win over rival Columbus on Saturday.
Albany's defense held Columbus more than 20 points below their season average and it all started with the game's first pass and Richmond's return.
"It set the tone of the game," Albany coach Lucious Davis said. "Rumor has it, we have a pretty good defense. They stepped up and made some plays for us."
The Panthers, the PIFL's only undefeated team, led by two scores for most of the game before Columbus cut the lead to 43-33 with nine minutes to play on Randy Hippeard's 3-yard run.
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But Albany answered back and never let the Lions (3-3) back in it. Hippeard was intercepted three times and sacked twice. He threw for 258 yards and three touchdowns.
Maurice Dupree led the Lions with 94 yards receiving and two touchdowns.
Albany quarterback Cecil Lester threw for 192 yards and four touchdowns.