The number four Columbus Lions (8-7) travel from the south of the United States to the north to Worcester, Massachusetts to take on the number one Massachusetts Pirates (11-5) in the 2018 National Arena League (NAL) Semi-Finals.
First-place Pirates look to keep momentum going
The Lions look to be the underdogs once again in the NAL playoffs, being the lowest seed in contention, being hosted by the top dog, the Pirates. The last time the Lions were the underdogs in the playoffs, they ended up defeating the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks in a crazy game that was decided by two points.
The Lions have faced the Pirates a total of three times this season, one of which was in Columbus and two were in Worcester. The Lions have a total record of 1-2 when facing the Pirates.
Quarterback Mason Espinosa has not been present the last two weeks. This puts Jeremy Johnson in as the starting quarterback. Johnson over the last two games has been 22-of-53 for 269 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. Over the course of the two games Johnson has been in, Jarmon Fortson has been the go-to guy with nine receptions for 149 yards and three touchdowns. Durron Neal is the runner-up with nine receptions for 121 yards and two touchdowns.
The battle of the injured starting quarterbacks continues with the Pirates Quarterback Sean Brackett not being able to play due to an ankle injury. His injury occurred just minutes before Espinosa’s injury and in a different game.
This season, Pirates are second in the league in scoring offense. They average of 49.9 points per game. The Lions are slightly behind with an average of 48.7 points per game.
The Pirates passing game is not as close as the scoring offense. The Pirates are in first place in the league with an average 217.9 passing yards per game. The Lions are in third place with 211.9 passing yards per game.
The Lions all season have dominated with the rushing game, which is why they are in second place with rushing yards per game at 29.5 yards per game. The Pirates are in third with 19.8 rushing yards per game.
All four teams in the NAL this season has beat each other, so the competition is there, but what will these two teams do this weekend?
If it ever went down to the skill level of the quarterback, the Columbus Lions would end up winning. The Pirates quarterback is not very tall, which makes it tough to see over the defensive line. This height issue would also make it tough to throw the ball out of the defensive linemen’s reach.
This game will be on Saturday, August 11 at 7:00 pm (E.T.) at the DCU Center in Worcester, Massachusetts. This game will be streamed on the league’s YouTube channel.