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Columbus Lions fall 57-54 to archrival Albany Panthers

The Albany Panthers erased a halftime deficit on backup quarterback Chris Mitchell's four fourth quarter touchdowns to defeat Columbus 57-54 on Saturday night.

Trailing 34-29, Mitchell, who relieved Cecil Lester in the fourth period, found Antwone Savage in the end zone for a 17-yard score to put the Panthers up 36-34.

The Lions answered with a 35-yard pass from Randy Hippeard to Maurice Dupree putting Columbus back up 41-36.

Mitchell ran in from five-yards out. Ryan Gates Uno put the Panthers up 43-41 with 9:18 remaining in the contest.

Hippeard hit Clenton Rafe for a 21-yard score with 7:40 remaining to send Columbus back ahead 48-43.

Mitchell once again found Savage for a 19-yard score with 5:09 remaining to put the Panthers up 50-48.

Columbus drove to the Panther 10-yard line in the final two minutes trailing by two, but Hippeard's pass on 4th-and-3 fell incomplete.

Mitchell's 2-yard sweep with 24 seconds put the game out of reach.

Columbus added a score

on the final play when Hippeard found London Crawford from 15 yards out for the final margin.

Their two-point conversion fell short.

Columbus scored on its opening drive, a 7-play 30-yard drive capped by a Crawford five-yard touchdown catch from Hippeard to put the Lions up 7-0.

The Lions squandered a chance to go up 14-0 following a 48-yard interception return by Cortez Stubbs to the Panther 2-yard line.

Two plays later Hippeard fumbled attempting to dive in for the score.

The fumble was recovered by Damien Daniels and returned 36 yards to the Lions 14 yard line.

Cecil Lester capped a penalty-filled drive by finding Antwonis Cutts for a 9-yard scoring pass to tie the game 7-7.

Ryan Gates' Uno gave the Panthers an 8-7 lead heading into the second period.

The teams traded scores early in the second quarter.

Crawford caught a 0-yard Hippeard pass to put the Lions up 15-8 following Trey Crum's point after and Uno.

Lester hit Cutts again from 22-yards out to tie the contest at 15-15 with 10:37 remaining in the half.

Columbus added 18 unanswered points to take a 33-15 halftime lead.

Hippeard capped a one-play drive by finding Maurice Dupree in the back of the endzone. Crum's Uno pushed the lead to 23-15.

One play later the Lion defense scored on a sack of Lester for a safety and a 24-15 score.

Justen Rivers stopped a Panther drive with a tip of a Lester pass which he intercepted himself.

Two plays later Hippeard found Crawford streaking across the middle for a 47-yard score.

Crum's Uno made it 33-15.