The Columbus Lions DEFEATED the Monterrey Steel Monday night 49-42 in perhaps the most exciting and thrilling game of the 2017 season. The Good Guys in Blue were met with an overly hostile crowd in Monterrey, Mexico, motivated officials, and a Steel team and staff that was as active and poisonous as “Montezuma’s Revenge”. In the end, the Lions ended the Steel’s dreams of winning their final home game and avenging the 48-18 drubbing earlier this year. To put it bluntly and accurately, the BEST team won.
The first quarter started with a proverbial bang as the Steel’s kicker blasted the football through the uprights for a 2-0 lead. Recognizing the challenge to their front, the Lion offense, led by Mason Espinosa walked the ball down the field with ease, scoring on a Tristan Purifoy short TD run. Lindsey Wolfe failed to score on the PAT, and the Lions led 6-2. The Steel fought back quickly and regained the lead after the first quarter 13-6.
In the second quarter, the Lions fought through the adversity of the hostile crowd, players and fans. Mason Espinosa continued the offense clinic, finding Purifoy, Durron Neal and Michael Reeve for TDs. The Black Shirt defense stiffened as well, holding the Steel to only one score. At the break, it was Good Guys 28-20.
. The Lions came out in the second half determined to bring the “W” back to Columbus. The 3rd quarter was exciting as both teams scored on explosive plays, with the end result being 35-35.
The 4th quarter was an absolute brawl. Espinosa and Purifoy seemed unstoppable, and on 3rd and 15 from their own 5, Espinosa found a streaking Purifoy on a 45yd TD pitch and catch to make the score 41-35. The Lion defense would need to stiffen to nab the win.
Much to the chagrin of Lions fans, the Steel came back and scored a go ahead TD with only one minute remaining in regulation. Remembering the Lehigh game, Coach Jason Gibson managed the clock perfectly, synchronizing the march down the field with Espinoza at the helm. On 3rd and goal from the 8 with 6.6 seconds remaining, Purifoy hauled in his 5th TD catch of the game to give the Lions the lead. After a two point conversion and the following kick, the Lions escaped with the big “W” 49-42. Purifoy would finish the game with 9 catches for 145 yds, 5 TDs and one rushing TD.
The Lions now securely hold the 3rd place seed for the playoffs and will face in-state rival Georgia on Saturday night in Albany in their final regular season game. The Lions currently sit at 8-3 and will play Lehigh in the first round of the playoffs on the 23rd of June in Allentown, Pa.