The Columbus Lions defeated the Georgia Firebirds 50-34 Saturday night to finish the regular season with 6 straight wins, a 9-3 record and a #3 seed in the upcoming NAL Playoffs. The victory on Saturday was not the best win for the Lions, but in the end, the surging defense rose to the occasion and the potent Columbus offense pushed for the “W”.
The Lions started the game with a bang on the opening series as Kendrick Washington recovered a fumble after the Birds QB was pressured, lost the ball, and got smashed on the play by newcomer and former Dallas Cowboy, Toby Jackson. Less than two minutes after the fumble, Mason Espinosa found Tristan Purifoy to start the scoring for an early 7-0 lead. After a Marte Sears pick, the offense found the end zone again, for a 14-0 lead. Later, the Lions made it 21-3, and then the quarter ended 21-10 after the Birds finally found the end zone.
The Lions defense continued to pressure and harangue the Birds on each series, creating more turnovers, sacking the Birds QB 5 times in the first half alone, and batting passes away. Espinosa and the Blue Shirt Assassin offense continued to pick apart the hapless Birdies, scoring on every possession of the first half. Lindsey Wolfe finished the scoring with an FG to send the boys into the locker room at the break with a 36-16 lead. On both sides of the ball the Lions looked dominant, impressive and efficient.
The second half was a tad different than the first, as the Lions struggled on offense. After a deuce to start the second half, the Birds stopped the Lions on a 4th and goal from inside the 5 to keep the score 36-18 with about 10 min left in the 3rd. The Birds, backed up on their goal line matriculated the ball down the field all the way into Lions territory, but the Black Shirt defense held and the score at the end of the 3rd quarter was 36-18 Lions.
In the 4th quarter, the Lions gave up two touchdowns and a FG to the Birds, and were outscored 18-14. The only highlights of the 4th quarter came when Larry Edwards, an Albany native, had a one yard TD plunge, and when Darren Daniel found Jarmon Fortson in the back of the end zone to finish the scoring for the Lions at 50 points. The Lions defense only allowed 1 TD in the second half on a broken play, and played above average for the remainder of the night. The Lions did manage to add two more sacks to make it 7 on the night for the Trenchmob. Georgia made a late surge on a 55 yd. “pick six” for a TD, but it was too little, too late, as the Lions won 50-34.
The Lions are now focused on Friday night’s playoff game and rematch vs the Lehigh Steelhawks. It will be the second time this year the Lions will make the trip to Allentown, PA for the game. The last time, the Lions lost 60-54 on a walkoff TD by the Hawks in the final seconds of the game.