The Columbus Lions suffered a heartbreaking 60-54 loss Sunday night to the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks on a last second touchdown that transfixed the Lehigh crowd and crushed the hopes of the Lions. The fight of the Lions never stopped as the boys in blue fought valiantly, but came up short in the end.
In first quarter action, it was all Steelhawks as the Lions seemed to be off track from the start, even after scoring on their first drive to attempt to tie the score, but an errant kick (one of many) by Lindsey Wolfe only cut the score to 7-6. The ‘Hawks quickly jumped to a 15 point lead after one quarter, capitalizing on Lion mistakes on both sides of the field.
In the 2nd quarter, the Lions fought back and outscored the ‘Hawks 14-7 with two key defensive stops. QB Darren Daniel found WR Michael Reeve for the first of his four touchdowns at the close of the quarter to cut Lehigh Valley’s lead to eight. The score at the break was 28-20 Steelhawks, and the Lions would be receiving the second half kickoff.
In the 3rd quarter the teams traded blows and the Lions were in striking distance to seize and hold onto the lead. The Lions defense stepped up their pressure and intensity and held the Hawks to a mere one touchdown on a 21 yard run by QB Warren Smith, Jr. Lions QB Darren Daniel continued to find Lion receivers at will, in particular Lion standout and Carver graduate Jarmon Fortson, who hauled in a 30 yd. score on the first play of the second half. Fortson had 116 yards receiving overall. Midway through the quarter, the Lions also suffered the loss of standout DE Cory Crawford, who after delivering a crushing blow to a Hawks wide receiver on a screen pass, showed serious signs of having a concussion. Crawford was pulled from the game and was taken to the Lions’ locker room for testing and observation.
The electricity picked up even more in the 4th quarter as the Lions finally took their first lead of the game with a Darren Daniel touchdown pass to Mike Reeve. The lead would not be theirs for long however, as the Hawks came roaring back with a touchdown, a kickoff “deuce”, and a field goal to grab a five point lead. The Lions attempted to answer on the following drive, but Daniel was picked off for a second time and the ‘Hawks capitalized on the turnover on the ensuing possession with a passing TD to put the Steelhawks up by 12 with less than 3 minutes to play in regulation.
The Lions quickly got back to work, recognizing the ominous task at their forefront, and in very short order scored two touchdowns while holding the Hawks on two occasions to grasp a miniscule one point lead, 54-53 on a Darrin Daniel TD run with 18 seconds remaining on the clock. At the end of the play, the lead did not come without drama and controversy as the officials added 8 seconds back to the game clock after Jarmon Fortson allegedly called timeout on the play preceding the Daniel TD run.
The Lions, leading 54-53, elected to “squib” kick the ball to the Hawks on the succeeding kickoff, giving the Steelhawks the ball inside their own 20. After a short gain and an incomplete pass, the Lions defense had the Hawks pinned with a 3rd down play with only 7 seconds to go. 5 seconds later, the Hawks receiver was dancing in the end zone and the Lions trailed 60-54 with two seconds in regulation.
The game would end after the final kick after a short return by Fortson, and the Lions lost their second game of the season in a painful fashion.
The next game for the Lions is at home vs the High County Grizzlies on April 22nd.