The Massachusetts Pirates (5-4) extended their win streak to four games defeating the Columbus Lions (3-5) 59-50. The win puts the Pirates over the .500 record mark for the first time this season. Sean Brackett led the Pirates offense, completing 25 of his 37 passes with 273 yards through the air and six total touchdowns. Wide receiver Mardy Gilyard caught 11 balls for 113 yards and four touchdowns, and also added a rushing score. The Lions were guided by Luke Collis, who went 21-43 with 305 yards, seven touchdowns, and two interceptions.
The first fifteen minutes of action were slow offensively. The only score of the quarter came when quarterback Sean Brackett found receiver Mardy Gilyard from 18-yards out to put the Pirates up 7-0. For the Lions, a handful of missed opportunities left them scoreless. Columbus quarterback Luke Collis hit wide receiver Parris Mack for a 27-yard gain on the first play from scrimmage that set the Lions up at the goal line. However, Pirates defensive back Chucky Williams broke up a screen pass on fourth-and-goal to cause a turnover on downs, leaving the Lions empty-handed. Mack was also left wide open in the end zone later in the quarter but let the ball slip through his hands that would've been an easy six points for Columbus. Defensive linemen JD Griggs and Toby Johnson combined for a sack in the quarter as well.
Both offenses erupted in the second quarter. Collis and Mack connect for four total touchdowns throughout the quarter, while Brackett found Gilyard for three scores. Lions’ defensive back Rico Johnson intercepted Brackett after the quarterback was forced out of the pocket and attempted to throw across the field. The play then resulted in a touchdown for Columbus. The Pirates came up short on a fourth-and-goal play, but a defensive holding penalty on Columbus have The Pirates new life. On the following play, Brackett found Thomas Owens for a seven-yard touchdown. The most exhilarating play of the quarter came when Brackett hit Gilyard from 19-yards out for the score on the final play of the half. Both teams headed into the locker room tied up at 28-28.
The Pirates started the third quarter on offense, but the drive came to a halt after the Lions forced a turnover on downs on the Mass. 23-yard line. The Lions capitalized on the good field position as Collis found receiver Bones Bagaunte for a 12-yard touchdown. Columbus kicker Lindsey Wolfe added a deuce on the following kickoff. The Pirates responded with a touchdown of their own as Brackett found Gilyard in the back of the end zone for the score. Gilyard made an acrobatic catch as he was able to hold onto the ball while flipping over the wall. Pirates’ kicker Mike Weaver added a deuce on the kickoff. Things started going downhill for Columbus when Collis was picked off by defensive back Lawrence Austin, who returned the turnover from end zone to end zone to give the Pirates another touchdown. It was Austin’s fifth pick of the season and his second interception returned for a touchdown. Weaver added another deuce to close out the quarter.
The Lions started the fourth quarter with another Collis-to-Mack touchdown, which marked the fourth time the duo connected for six points in the contest. The score put the Lions within three points of the Pirates, as they then trailed 46-43. However, Brackett led his offense downfield and completed the drive by doing his best Tom Brady impression as he went up-and-over the linemen to sneak it in from one-yard out on fourth and goal. Collis responded with another touchdown, this time finding receiver Chris Sanders-McCullum from three yards out. The Pirates put the game out of reach on their following drive when Gilyard rushed for a three-yard touchdown with under a minute left in the game. The Pirates defense put the nail in the coffin on the final Lions possession of the game when linebacker Tavarus Dantzler hit Collis as he released a pass, causing the ball to spring up into the air and land into the hands of Toby Johnson for the interception to seal the nine point win.
The Massachusetts Pirates are members of the National Arena League (NAL). The Pirates play all home games at the DCU Center located at 50 Foster St. Worcester, MA. 01608. For more information on the Massachusetts Pirates please call (508) 452-MASS (6277), email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.masspiratesfootball.com. Single game tickets are available online at ticketmaster.com or the DCU Center Box Office. For group outings please call 508-452-MASS (6277). Follow the Pirates on Facebook at Facebook.com/MAPirates on Instagram @mass.pirates, as well as Twitter @mass_pirates.