The Columbus Lions destroyed the Dayton / Atlanta Wolfpack 77-0 before a record setting crowd (6425 attendees) many of which who were Soldiers from FT Benning for Military Appreciation Night. The Lions borrowed a mission from the US Army Infantry, as the Good Guys in Blue closed with and destroyed the Pack in a game that was never close.
The 77-0 drubbing put the Lions to 5-3 for the year with 4 games remaining. Currently, the Lions sit at 3rd place in the NAL, behind the two teams that beat them, the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks and the Jacksonville Sharks. For the first time this year, the Lions are also on a two game winning streak and hope to extend that for the remainder of the season.
The 1st quarter was a fairly mundane event, as the Lions jumped to a 7-0 lead on a Darren Daniel to Jarmon Fortson 9 yd. TD throw/catch, but had yet another red zone blunder during their second possession of the first half, and failed to convert on 4th and goal. Luckily, it would be the only red zone mishap for the Lions on the night. The defense smothered the Pack early, as its first three possessions netted negative yards.
The onslaught started in the 2nd quarter, as the Lions offense got on track, and the vaunted “Black Shirt” defense systematically attacked the Pack offense series after series, creating turnovers, sacks, and locking down any attempts to advance the football passed midfield. The offense got on track as well with 4 TD passes by Daniel, two to standout Tristan Purifoy, and two more to Greg Hollinger, who suited up in place of Durron Neal who is attending a CFL tryout. Joe Marshall added a 1 yd. TD plunge to make the score 39-0 at halftime.
The 2nd half was all Lions as well. Backup QB Mason Espinosa came in for Daniel and immediately orchestrated a drive down the field which resulted in a 5 yd. pitch/catch to Fortson, and then later found Purifoy again for a 1yd TD pass. Score after 3, 53-0 Lions.
There were more fireworks in the 4th quarter as the Lion defense created more turnovers en route to two defensive touchdowns set up by a nasty pass rushing effort by the defensive “trench mob”. LeRon Furr and Julian Young scooped up fumbles for TDs and Lindsey Wolfe added two deuces. All in all, the swarming defense created 9 turnovers, held the Wolfpack to -21 yds. total offense, and forced a 0-12 performance on 3rd and 4th downs. For the third week in a row, the Lion defense held its opponent to season lows in offense and scoring.
The offense scored on almost every possession, was efficient, protected the ball, and improved in the red zone. The Lions amassed 179 total yds. of offense, and seem to be ready for any task presented to them.
The 5-3 Lions will face the High Country next Saturday night in Boone, NC, and hope to increase their winning streak vs the Grizzlies.
The final regular season home game is June 3rd in The Jungle on June 3rd at 7pm.