Opening the season on the road is always tough. Saturday was just another reminder that a few plays here and there will change the game dramatically.
The 2019 season started off with a pick-six by the Orlando Predators to put the Lions down early.
While Luke Collis opened up the season with an interception, he bounced back strong throughout the game throwing for 5 touchdowns and rushing for another while also tacking on another interception. Bones Bagaunte was a headache for the Predators all night with big play after big play showing to be a big focal point for the offense this season after signing with the Lions from the Maine Mammoths.
The defense stepped up in a big way with both Shattle Fenteng and DeMario Donnell recording an interception. The Lions defense, which averaged 47.4 points per game last season, saw improvements in all areas of their game.
It would be back and forth for a while, but the 2nd half is where the game picked up dramatically. The Lions were up 34-29 late in the 4th quarter before Orlando answered back with a touchdown in the corner of the endzone to put the Predators back in the lead 36-34.
With their backs against the wall, the Lions took a shot down the field. While the pass fell incomplete, a pass interference call pushed the offense up the field. On the next play, Collis connected to Bagaunte for a touchdown, but it was called back by an offensive holding penalty.
On a crucial 4th down with 1 minute to go, Collis’ pass fell incomplete at the 2-yard line. The Lions defense, which was solid all night, had a costly mistake when a holding call gave Orlando a fresh set of downs instead of forcing 4th down near their own endzone. On the next play, Orlando would connect for a touchdown with 36 seconds left.
With their final chance at tying the game up, Collis found Paris Mack deep to set the Lions up at the Orlando 4-yard line. On 3rd down with 18 seconds left, Collis found Bagaunte for a 9-yard touchdown. With the game on the line, Collis attempted a quarterback sneak for the 2-pt conversion but fumbled, ending a wild final 5 minutes.
Columbus (0-1) will return home to open the season in the Columbus Civic Center at 7PM EST when they meet heated rival the Jacksonville Sharks (0-1). The Sharks dropped their first game on the road 52-41 vs the New York Streets. A familiar face will return as Jarmon Fortson, who led Columbus with 1,029 yards (3rd in NAL) and 31 touchdowns (1st in NAL) last season will suit up for Jacksonville.