Lions Clinch Playoffs with OT Win in Orlando
The Columbus Lions (5-8) storm back from a 43-20 deficit to beat the Orlando Predators (2-12) in overtime 52-46. In doing so, the Lions clinched a playoff birth for the 3rd straight year and set up a future date with the Jacksonville Sharks.
The comeback was manufactured by quarterback Bryan Hicks, shaking off his rough play. Triston Purifoy put together a career game and the defense coming up big with two big turnovers in the final minute to send the game to overtime.
The Lions got on the board first when Hicks found Bones Bagaunte in the endzone to go up 6-0. After that, the Lions has a tough time keeping the Predator's offense out of the endzone while scoring themselves. Bryan Smith had a 28-yard scamper to the endzone to tie it up a 6-6. Smith would then toss a 9-yard touchdown to Michael Lyons.
In the second quarter, Desmond Reese would find the endzone on a seven-yard and one-yard runs. But Smith's air raid continued against the Lions defense as he would find Lyons again for a 30-yard touchdown and Darrin Peterson Jr. for a 15-yard touchdown. The Predators entered the locker room in firm control 29-20.
In the beginning of the 3rd quarter, things went from bad to worse as the Predators only needed two plays from Smith to find Peterson Jr. on a nine-yard touchdown. Orlando's Trujillo would then intercept Hicks for a 34-yard pick-six. Down 43-20 halfway through the 3rd quarter and playoffs hanging in the balance, the Lions would begin their comeback starting with a Bagaunte six-yard touchdown and a Reese two-point conversion. After adding a field goal, Hicks would toss another 15-yard touchdown to Bagaunte to close up the deficit to 46-34. Purifoy would find the endzone on a seven-yard touchdown from Hicks.
The onside attempt would fail for the Lions., but with 51 seconds to go, the Lions' defense would come up with a huge fumble recovery. It would be Triston Purifoy to the rescue again as he would reel in a seven-yard touchdown with six seconds to go. Lindsey Wolfe would line up for the deuce attempt but would hit the right upright on the field goal post. Tied at 46, the Lions and Predators would head to overtime.
The Lions would be on offense first and it took only two plays for Hicks to find his way into the endzone on a six-yard run. With the Predators on the offensive, Kyle Griswould would intercept Smith on 4th down to seal the Lions' path to the NAL Playoffs 52-46.
The Lions would outgain the Predators 241 yards to 183 yards and would have 28 first downs to the Predators eight. The Lions would throw four interceptions and fumble four times, but only lose one of those fumbles. Hicks would complete 24/42 passes for 233 yards and five touchdowns with four interceptions. Purifoy would have 10 receptions for 101 yards and two touchdowns. Bagaunte would bring in nine receptions for 81 yards and three touchdowns. Griswould led the team with four total tackles and two interceptions. As a team, the Lions came away with five tackles for losses and two sacks.
With the win, the Lions improve to 5-8 and come back home for the final game of the season against the Carolina Cobras next Saturday, 7PM in the Columbus Civic Center. After next week, Columbus' chase for a 3rd straight NAL Championship appearance will begin on the road vs rival Jacksonville Sharks (11-1)
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National Arena League Stories from July 20, 2019
- Lions Clinch Playoffs with OT Win in Orlando - Columbus Lions
- Sharks Slip Past Pirates 54-47 - Jacksonville Sharks
- Cobras vs Streets: Pre-Game Notes - Carolina Cobras
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