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Lions head to Massachusetts for Weekend Showdown

05/03/2018 6:51 PM

By Ronald Frazier
Special Correspondent

After a much needed week off, the Columbus Lions go on the road for their first away game against the expansion Massachusetts Pirates on May 6th at the DCU arena. Massachusetts looks to be much stronger than a new team joining the NAL for 2018.
The Pirates are already 3-1 with their only loss on the road to Carolina when starting quarterback Sean Brackett was gone for workouts with the Canadian football league.
That puts the Pirates and the Cobras in second place behind the first-place Lions, who are 2-0
In addition, the two teams the Lions have defeated for their 2-0 mark are also two teams the Pirates have beaten. Massachusetts walloped Lehigh Valley 72-24 with Brackett at the helm on the road and also beat Jacksonville on their home turf by a 63-56 margin.
Add to that the Pirates stopping another expansion club, the Maine Mammoths, 51-24 and the Pirates will be a tough opponent for the Lions.
In the three games Brackett has started he has thrown for 16 touchdowns against only four interceptions and led his team to three wins. The Pirates had quarterback duties shared with backups the week Brackett was out and backup Robert Kent had four TD passes in the loss to Carolina.
Besides Devon Brown, who had six catches for 166 yards and four TD’s against the Sharks, the Pirates have added wide receiver Mardy Gilyard formerly from the Sharks and he had an outstanding game against the Steelhawks on May 1st.
In that win Gilyard caught three TD passes and ran for another as both Brackett and Gilyard started their arena careers with Jacksonville.
The Lions will defense has been the big story and will be expected to put pressure on Brackett to add to his interception total. With Corey Crawford, Larry Edwards and Darius Rosser up front the Lions have a strong pass rush and their battle with the Pirates offensive line will be a key to victory.
Although Brackett’s totals are gaudy, so are Lion quarterback Mason Espinosa. He threw for five touchdowns in the first game, a win over the Steelhawks. He also passed for five more TD’s in the win against Jacksonville and ran for a score as well. Espinosa has also not thrown an interception in 2018.
While the Pirates have caused turnovers, their defense has been shredded and Carolina’s Charles McCollum had eight TD passes against them in their single loss. In addition, Jacksonville scored 56 points against the Pirates despite losing.
So the Pirates will have their hands full with the Lion offense with Jarmon Fortson, who has scored seven TD’s in just two games and Durron Neal who has added three more. Quayvon Hicks, who scored twice in the opener and ran for 47 yards but was out of the Sharks’ game, should return as well.