The number four Columbus Lions advance to the National Arena Bowl as they took down the number one Massachusetts Pirates. This victory sends the Lions to their second consecutive National Arena League (NAL) Championship game.
Columbus Lions Advance to National Arena Bowl II
During the first game of the 2018 NAL Playoffs, the 11-6 Pirates hosted the 9-7 Lions.
One-Sided First Half
The Lions had a dominating first half, as their defense forced the only turnover. The Lions offense scored enough times to create a 15 point gap at halftime.
Many turnover on downs for Massachusetts gave the Lions the game. They missed a 58-yard field goal. The only points that the Pirates saw in the first half was on the opening drive.
The RedZone stops for Columbus helped their offense find the End Zone on multiple occasions. As the first half came to a close, Pirates Quarterback Darron Thomas suffered an injury, which hurt the Pirates offense as a whole. Wide Receiver Bones Bagaunte came in as QB and played for one play. The Lions got the ball once again, but didn’t do anything to close the first half.
Closer Third Quarter
To start the second half, the Pirates got the ball and scored in a timely manner. Thomas returned to the game, which helped the Pirates out a lot. Not only did they score a touchdown, they kicked a deuce to make the score 16-22 with the Pirates trailing.
Thomas was limping on what looked to be an ankle injury the entire second half.
On the opening Lions drive of the second half, they drove down the field and took some time off the clock. After an intense drive, Quarterback Jeremy Johnson faked the handoff to Fullbacks Quayvon Hicks and ran in the end zone. That was the second time that the Lions ran this play. Just like the Pirates’ kickoff, Kicker Tyler Rausa made a deuce for the Lions, putting the score at 31-16 with the Lions controlling the game.
Fourth Quarter Madness
To end the third quarter and the start of the fourth quarter, the Pirates and Lions exchanges touchdowns, but the Lions did a little more, as they gained two more points on their lead from a successful deuce from Rausa.
In crunch time for the Pirates, they proved that they can still score with an injured quarterback. With just under six minutes to go in the game, the Pirates shrunk the Lions lead to 10 with a 40-30 score.
What put the icing on the cake for the Lions was a touchdown late in the fourth quarter with under two minutes to go. The score was 47-30 be made it a lot harder for the Pirates to even think about coming back. The Pirates burned the majority of the clock, taking their time to score a touchdown. With 92.3 seconds left, Thomas threw a touchdown pass to Bagaunte. On the two point conversion, Bagaunte couldn’t hold onto the snap and failed to get in the end zone. To end the game, the Lions took control of the ball and killed the clock and added a field goal.
The game ultimately ended with a 50-36 victory for the Lions.
Scenarios for National Arena Bowl II
The National Arena Bowl will be hosted by the winner of the Carolina Cobras and Jacksonville Sharks game. If the Cobras win, the championship game will be on Monday, August 27 at 7:00 pm. If the Sharks best the Cobras, then the Sharks will host the Lions for the second season in a row on Sunday, August 26 at 5:00 pm.