Arena Football League
Soul Look To Continue Win Streak Against Storm
The Philadelphia Soul look to win their fourth consecutive road game of the season as they take on the Tampa Bay Storm. Philadelphia leads the series, 5-3, after sweeping Tampa Bay twice last season, 83-48 and 83-79. Kickoff, between the American Conference rivals, is set at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 25 on CBS Sports Network.
"This is one of those games that comes down to the turnover battle," explained Soul head coach Clint Dolezel about the upcoming game against Tampa Bay. "We need to win the battle against this team. The Storm are +17 and we're -4. The turnovers are the reason why they're 6-3 and we're 4-4. If we win the turnover battle, we should come out of this week with a win."
The defense is led by DL Bryan Robinson who is No. 2 in the league in tackles-for-loss (10.5) and No. 7 in sacks (5.5). Philadelphia's rush defense is one of their strengths, as it ranks No. 1 in fewest rushing yards per game (14.4) and fewest rushing touchdowns allowed (6). After forcing three turnovers last week, the team pushed their turnover margin to -4.
Clint Dolezel's offense has no issues moving the ball this season, as they rank No. 2 in total offense (312.0). Their passing attack ranks No. 4 (280.8) while they've scored the second most rushing touchdowns in the league (20). Tiger Jones is Philadelphia's main weapon, ranking No. 2 in the league in receiving yards (1,013), No. 3 in receptions (71) and No. 6 in receiving touchdowns (17).
Tampa Bay is led by duel-threat quarterback Adrian McPherson. The veteran quarterback out of Florida State alum leads the league in rushing (297 yards) and rushing touchdowns (24) while also ranking No. 5 among quarterbacks in total offense (292.0). He has 64 total touchdowns and just seven turnovers. The Storm has scored the third most touchdowns in the league (75) and average 57.7 points per game. Despite McPherson's numbers, Dave Ewart's team ranks in the middle of the pack in offense yards per game (285.3).
Tampa Bay's defense ranks No. 10 in the league in total defense (281.8) and has given up the second most rushing yards in the league (274). Despite the defense's struggles, they have created a league-high 29 turnovers. The Storm's lockdown defense and ability to not make mistakes has the team's turnover margin at +17.
The major thing to watch in this matchup is the Soul's ability to shut down the Storms QB McPherson. If they No. 5 sacking defense in Philadelphia can push around the No. 13 Storm offensive line, they should be able to put pressure on the quarterback. The Soul's league-leading rushing defense should be able to stop McPherson on the run as well, and force him to make plays through the air. A key to this game will be for the defense to lock down McPherson and capitalize on the turnover opportunities.
A matchup to watch will be Philadelphia WR Tiger Jones against the Tampa Bay secondary. Jones is one of only two wide receivers in the league to have over 1,000 receiving yards and has seven consecutive games of over 100 yards.
The Storm rank near the bottom of the league against the pass, but have two members of their secondary that rank in the top ten in interceptions in Chris Smith and De'Audra Dix. Three members of their defense rank in the top 20 in tackles-per-game in Smith, DB Rashad Barksdale and DB Vance Cuff. If the Storm secondary can't create turnovers or stop Jones, Philadelphia could see their winning streak extend to two games.
Shock on road for National Conference showdown
The Spokane Shock (6-3) take on the San Antonio Talons (4-4) for a National Conference matchup in Week 10 of the NET10 Wireless Arena Football League season. Kickoff is set for Friday, May 24th at 5:30PM PST at the Alamodome in San Antonio, TX. Game will be streamed live online at shock.arenafootball.com and on 700AM ESPN Radio.
Last week, the Shock hosted the New Orleans VooDoo (1-7) after coming off a three game losing streak, two of which games were held at Spokane Arena. Shock quarterback Erik Meyer completed 29 of 40 pass attempts for 353 yards and 6 touchdowns while wide receiver Adron Tennell led the receiving effort with 14 receptions for 174 yards and two scores. Kamar Jorden returned to the Shock lineup after spending Week 8 with the NFL's Indianapolis Colts and yielded 8 receptions for 95 yards and one score while Brandon Thompkins would make his first start of the season and record 6 receptions for 82 yards and 3 touchdowns. Paul Stephens still held on to his league lead for interceptions on the season (7) as he picked off VooDoo quarterback Kurt Rocco twice on the night, while Terrance Sanders recorded an interception and kick return for scores during the Shock's 65-54 win.
San Antonio enters Week 10 atop the Central Division of the National Conference after back to back wins against the Jacksonville Sharks (6-3) and the Cleveland Gladiators (2-6). In the Talons' Week 9 matchup against the Gladiators, the Talons' took the early first half lead and didn't look back with quarterback Nick Hill at the helm in their 57-33 victory. Hill, joined the Talons' roster in Week 3 after John Dutton went down with an achilles injury. Since becoming the starter, the Talons have gone 4-2 behind Hill who has completed 59.2% of his pass attempts for 1,163 yards and 21 touchdowns with 9 interceptions while San Antonio's receivers are led by Jomo Wilson with 47 receptions for 605 yards and 11 touchdowns on the year. Defensive lineman Joe Sykes led the AFL last season as a member of the Sabercats with 16 sacks on the season. In 2013 through Week 9, Sykes is currently third in the AFL with 6.5 sacks in 8 games.
The Shock will enter their Week 10 matchup against the Talons boasting the 2nd ranked scoring offense in the league (66.8 pts/g) against a struggling San Antonio offense ranked 12th, scoring only 43.0 pts/g. So far this season, the strength of the Talons' and recent success has relied heavily on their defense who is giving up only 253.4 total yards per game (ranked 4th). Over their last four games in which they've achieved a record of 3-1, the Talons have given up an average of 37 points per contest. While the Talons will have their hand's full with a high powered Spokane offense, it will be the Shock defense that will yet again be under the microscope this week as they are still ranked last in the league in total yards per game (349.8 yds/g). While the Shock are still ranked third in turnover margin (+13), Spokane will need to continue to improve their defensive pressure on the quarterback led by James Ruffin who is tied for third in the league with 6.5 sacks after coming off a 3 sack performance last week against the VooDoo. The additions of defensive back Dodd-Masters and defensive lineman Diyral Briggs will be spotlighted in the Week 10 matchup with hopes to be high end contributors for the Shock in the second half of the season.
Last year, the Shock traveled to San Antonio in Week 2 and were led by quarterback Adam Froman after a Week 1 injury to Erik Meyer would put him out the rest of the 2012 season. In a game which was controlled heavily by the home team Talons in the first half, the Shock would score 4 of the 7 second half touchdowns to take the late lead and hold on for a 63-60 victory. Froman completed 25 of 35 attempts for 227 yards and 6 touchdowns with 3 interceptions while wide receivers Brandon Thompkins and Adron Tennell would combine for 17 receptions, 177 yards and 4 touchdowns. Froman would also ad 5 rushes for 53 yards and 2 scores on the ground. The Talons made a run into the 2012 AFL playoffs behind quarterback Aaron Garcia who completed 29 of 48 passing attempts for 311 yards and 6 touchdowns with 2 interceptions. Jomo Wilson led the receiving effort with 10 receptions for 128 yards and 3 scores.
So far in 2013, San Antonio and Spokane have shared six common opponents (SJS, CHI, TBY, AZ, IOWA, CLE). In those games, Spokane has achieved a 5-1 record while San Antonio has struggled at 2-4. Hitting the mid-point of the season, playoff implications will begin to take fold in the National Conference as Spokane prepares to embark on the second half of their West Division schedule, taking on their three rivals over a four week span in Weeks 11-14.
Kickoff is scheduled for Friday, May 24th at 5:30 PM PST at the Alamodome in San Antonio, TX and will be streaming online at shock.arenafootball.com/allaccess, and available on 700AM ESPN radio. Spokane will return home for back to back home games in Week 11 and 12 with June 1st against the San Jose Sabercats being the Shock's second CBS Sports Network Game of the Week and Military Appreciation Night at Spokane Arena. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by contacting TicketsWest at 800-325-SEAT, visiting TicketsWest.com online, or by visiting the Box Office located at Spokane Arena. Use the promo code "Military" for $7 upper level tickets to the Shock's June 1st home game.
Jacksonville looks to extend recent dominance over in-state rival
This week, the Jacksonville Sharks (6-3) will head south for a divisional matchup with the in-state rival Orlando Predators (2-6) on Saturday, May 25. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, and the game will air live throughout the Jacksonville area on both WJXT (television) and AM 600 WBOB (radio).
The Sharks head into this week's meeting with an impressive 5-1 record against the Predators during the regular season. In fact, Jacksonville has won each of the past four regular-season meetings, as the team swept Orlando in both the 2011 and 2012 seasons. Add in a first-round playoff victory over the Predators in 2011, and the Sharks have won five consecutive games in this series.
With that said, the 2013 edition of the Sharks heads into this week's game with the goal of stopping a three-game losing streak. After beginning the season 6-0, the Sharks came up empty against Arizona in Week 7 and at San Antonio in Week 8 before dropping a 57-36 decision to the San Jose SaberCats last Saturday night. At one point, the Sharks were the last remaining unbeaten team in the League. But at the regular season's halfway mark, the team finds itself in a battle with the Tampa Bay Storm for South Division supremacy, as the team's sport matching 6-3 records through nine games.
Adding to the importance of this week's matchup is that the Predators are a much different team from the one that started the season 0-5, with one major reason why that is the case. Unsatisfied with his team's quarterback play through the campaign's first third, Orlando head coach Doug Plank pulled the trigger on a trade that sent former Shark quarterback Aaron Garcia to Orlando. Though Garcia had a rough beginning of the season with San Jose, throwing 13 interceptions in four games, he has been on point since joining the Predators. In his three games with Orlando, the AFL legend has thrown 23 touchdowns against just three picks, including an 11-touchdown, no-interception performance in the Predators' remarkable 83-82 comeback win at Spokane in Week 7.
Garcia has the luxury of throwing to a veteran receiving corps, which is led by longtime Predator T.T. Toliver, who pulled in 18 receptions for 251 yards and six touchdowns in that win over the Shock. Toliver, Prechae Rodriguez and Jason Geathers form a potent mix that the Sharks will need to shut down.
Another factor that has helped Garcia is the protection of his offensive line. The Predators have yielded just one sack in the three games since Garcia stepped into the starting role, and none in either of the last two. With that said, Orlando's pass-protection unit will have its hands full with a Jacksonville front four that continues to impress.
The Sharks have led the league in sacks for virtually the entire season, and enter Week 10 with a league-high total of 27. The team is on pace to shatter the AFL record of 42, set by the SaberCats just last year. Each of the Sharks' four projected starting pass-rushers has at least four sacks in 2013. Veteran defensive lineman Jerry Turner was leading the league with seven sacks, only to be passed by Mac linebacker Aaron Robbins who now has 7.5. Turner and Matt Marcorelle have each already set new individual career highs, while Robbins is just one sack shy of the total that earned him a spot on the All-Arena First Team last year. The Sharks have proven that they can get to the quarterback against any opponent, as the team has at least one sack in every game and multiple sacks in all but three contests.
While the defense continues to excel, the Shark offense is still looking to re-establish the rhythm that it had through the season's first four weeks. Jacksonville has failed to score 50 points four times in the last five games, and will need to rack up the points to contend with a Predator team that has broken 50 in every game since Garcia took the reins.
After totaling 41 touchdowns against just two interceptions through the first seven weeks, Shark quarterbacks Bernard Morris and R.J. Archer have combined to throw just six touchdown passes in the last two while giving up four picks in those two contests.
One major key to an offensive turnaround is avoiding slow starts. Isolating the first two possessions of each game, the Sharks have scored just twice in six tries over the past three weeks. In addition, the team turned the ball over on each of its first two drives of the third quarter last Saturday night. With the back-and-forth nature of the indoor game, the Sharks can ill afford to come up empty on consecutive possessions this week.
A final factor to consider heading into this week is that Orlando employs the onside kick more often than any other team, having gone onside a league-high 17 times this season. The Sharks' special teams unit will need to be alert at any point in the game, whether or not the team has the lead. Thwarting any onside kick attempts by the Predators could play a significant role in a Jacksonville victory on Saturday night.
Champions Professional Indoor Football League
Wild and Bandits Battle for Key Playoff Positions
The Wichita Wild (9-1) travel to take on the Sioux City Bandits (7-2) on May 25th at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa; kick-off scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Saturday's game will be crucial for both teams as Wichita will be battling to remain in first place in the CPIFL standings while Sioux City currently sits in third place, one game behind Wichita and Omaha in the loss column. A victory for the Wild will secure at least a first round home playoff game at Hartman Arena, where the team is 5-0 on the season, whereas a Bandits victory would improve the team's record to 8-2 and increase their chances to make the CPIFL playoffs.
Fresh off a bye week, the latest for any team in the league, Wichita aims to extend their current winning streak to six games with the latest victory coming at home, 45-40 over the Salina Bombers. Led by running back Tywon Hubbard, who recorded 261 yards of all-purpose yards, Wichita held control throughout the game. A force on special teams, Hubbard set a league record with 57 yard return for a touchdown off a Bombers missed field goal to open the second quarter. Wild defensive back Kendrick Harper continued to shut down his half of the field, picking off three Salina passes to further his league lead in interception to ten. Harper and Hubbard's play against the Bombers earned them CPIFL Defensive Player of the Week and Special Teams Player of the Week respectively. Salina proved to be much tougher than the first time the two teams met, as they took over possession following a missed field goal attempt at their own five yard line with just 58 seconds remaining. On fourth and eight, Salina wide receiver Pelton Smalls dropped a pass that would have given the team a first down near midfield, but the Bombers received new life when Wild defender James McCartney was flagged for roughing the passer giving the Bombers a new set of downs on the 17 yard line. Salina took two shots at the end zone, one deflected by Harper the other dropped by Salina wide receiver Attrail Snipes, allowing the Wild to clinch a narrow 45-40 victory.
The Bandits enter this weekend's game after securing a 24-17 victory against the Lincoln Haymakers in a game that came down to the wire. Sioux City wide receiver Damon Mothershead, CPIFL Offensive Player of the Week, scored with just 22 seconds remaining in the first half to give the Bandits a 14-7 halftime lead. The Haymakers nodded the game at 14 apiece by way of a 27 yard pass from backup quarterback David Knighton to wide receiver Nick Rhodes for the only score of the third quarter. Sioux City answered quickly in the fourth quarter on Mothershead's second touchdown reception of the game and the teams traded field goals later in the period. The Haymakers had one final chance to tie the game with a drive starting on the 17 yard line with 2:45 left on the clock. Knighton drove the Haymakers to a first and goal on the one yard line but an incomplete pass to Rhodes as time expired gave the Bandits their seventh victory of the season.
The matchup will feature the top ranked rushing offense in Sioux City, who average 111.9 yards per game, and the top ranked rushing defense in Wichita, who only allow 44.5 yards per game. The Wild also rank second in the league with 85.3 rushing yards per game, while the Bandits rank second in rushing defense, holding their opponents to 48.3 rushing yards per game. The Wild clearly have the advantage in the air and the secondary is the best in league. If Sioux City cannot get the ground game going it could be a long night for the Bandits.
Player to Watch: Rocky Hinds
Rocky Hinds has been impressive all season throwing for a CPIFL leading 35 touchdowns and only eight interceptions. Look for Hinds to take advantage of a Bandits secondary that is giving up over 135 yards per game through the air, eighth in the league. In his most recent game against the Bombers, Hinds completed 12 of 22 passes for 101 yards, 4 touchdowns, and just one interception. Over the last four games, Rocky has passed for nine touchdowns versus only two interceptions, while completing over 60 percent of his passes.
The Wild will have their second bye week following Saturday's game against Sioux City, and will return home for their final game of the regular season June 8th against the Mid-Missouri Outlaws; kickoff scheduled for 7:05p.m. It is Fan Appreciation Night and all $9 reserved level seats will be buy one get one free.
Indoor Football League
Blizzard Battles Texas to Remain in Playoff Hunt
The Green Bay Blizzard (4-6) will travel to Texas to take on the Texas Revolution (4-6) on Saturday, May 25 at the Allen Event Center. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 P.M.
This is the second game all-time between the two teams with the Blizzard defeating the Revolution 74-25 at home on April 27, 2013.
The Green Bay Blizzard are coming off a 54-37 loss at home to the Cedar Rapids Titans. It was the first time in franchise history the team had lost to the Titans and put a blow into the Blizzard's playoff hopes.
Three former Blizzard players in RB LaRon Council, WR Bryan Pray and WR Desmond Tardy combined for six touchdowns vs. Green Bay. Blizzard DB B.J Hill was awarded IFL Special Team Player of the Week after he combined for 194 all-purpose yards and returned a kickoff for a touchdown in the third quarter.
For the first time this season under QB Spencer Ohm, the offense struggled to move the ball as Ohm threw for just 85 yards vs the Titans. Ohm had previously thrown for 200 or more yards in all three of his previous starts. Ohm did add two rushing touchdowns vs. Cedar Rapids and has now rushed for a touchdown in each of the last three games. After a 194 all-purpose yard performance, WR/ KR B.J now leads the IFL in all-purpose yards with 1271.
After facing the top two offenses, statistically, in the IFL the Blizzard defense will look to shut down a Texas Revolution team that likes to throw the ball as the Revolution lead the IFL in pass attempts. The defense has allowed 50 or more points just twice in the last eight games and the team ranks second in the IFL allowing just 218.2 yards per game.
The Texas Revolution are coming off a bye week. Prior to the bye week, the Revolution played the Chicago Slaughter in back-to-back weeks, splitting the series 1-1. Texas is 3-1 at home this season.
The Revolution are led by QB Marcus Jackson. Jackson ranks third in the IFL in passing touchdowns with 34.However he also leads the IFL in interceptions with 14. Jackson is a dual threat QB as he has added 13 rushing touchdown, third most in the IFL this season. WR Phillip Barnett leads the team in receiving with 34 catches for 386 yards. WR Keith Smith has had back-to-back games with three touchdown receptions. The Revolution rank sixth in the IFL averaging 42.3 points per game.
The Revolution rank next to last in the IFL allowing 51.7 points per game. The team is led defensively by DB Frankie Solomon Jr. Solomon Jr. leads the team in tackles and interceptions with 70 and 6, respectively. He also ranks second in the IFL in kick return yards with 742, only behind the Blizzard's B.J Hill. LB A.J Nicholson played for the Blizzard in 2011.
Legends Football League
LFL USA 2013 Divisional Playoffs Awarded To Denver, Colorado
Legends Football League officials have just announced that the 2013 LFL Divisional Playoffs have been awarded to Denver’s 1stBank Center to be played Saturday, August 17th.
The No.2 and No.3 seeds of both the Western and Eastern Conferences will travel to Denver to play in back-to-back Playoff games to determine which teams advance to the Conference Championship Games in which they will take on the No.1 seed of each Conference, on Saturday, August 24th (Host City TBA).
Opening its doors in 2006, 1stBank Center is a premiere indoor arena minutes from downtown Denver and the University of Colorado at Boulder. The LFL Divisional Playoffs mark the return of LFL Football to the Mile High City that saw the Denver Dream competing in 2009.
“We feel there is unfinished business in Denver for the LFL. Unfortunately due to the inclement weather in the Fall and Winter, and our Denver Dream franchise playing at a outdoor venue, our first endeavor did not work out. With 1stBank Center we feel we have the perfect LFL arena to not only host the upcoming Division Playoffs but also perhaps the return of the the Denver Dream,” said Mitchell S. Mortaza, Founder & Chairman, LFL Global.
Tickets for the LFL Divisional Playoffs go on sale Friday, May 24 online at TicketHorse.com or by phone 1.866.461.6556 or by visiting the Pepsi Center or 1stBank Center Box Office.
Professional Indoor Football League
Knoxville Nighthawks to Play Lehigh Valley for 3rd Time in the 2013 Season
The Knoxville Nighthawks (2-7) will take on the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks (5-4) Saturday, May 25 th at 7:00 pm EST at Stabler Arena.
The Knoxville Nighthawks have begun preparations for their third meeting of the year against the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks. Lehigh Valley won the first two meetings but Knoxville is looking to stop the streak. The Nighthawks are looking to finish their season on a strong note. "We have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Lehigh Valley is a very good team and we look forward to playing them a third time. We want to do our best and finish out our final three games on a good note," said Head Coach Cosmo DeMatteo.
The Nighthawks had a bye last week. This is the third of three meetings between the Nighthawks and Steelhawks during the 2013 season. The Nighthawks will have another week off next week and finish the season with back to back home games on June 7 and June 15.
There will be score updates on the Nighthawks' Facebook and Twitter pages. Be sure to watch them live online at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/steelhawkslv
Raiders Seek Bounce Back Win vs. Lions
Despite last week's double-overtime loss to the Louisiana Swashbucklers, the Richmond Raiders (5-3) still control their own destiny for a home playoff game as they prepare to host the Columbus Lions (3-5) on Saturday night at 7:00 at the Richmond Coliseum. The Lions bested the Raiders earlier this season in Columbus, so Richmond will be out for revenge on Bike and Play in RVA Night.
Last week the Raiders tied the game with a touchdown and two point conversion with 25 seconds remaining to force overtime, but couldn't convert a two pointer in the decisive second overtime period. Each team gets one possession per overtime, similar to NCAA rules, but two point conversions become mandatory after the first overtime. After the Raiders' second OT touchdown, Antwun Williams' wide receiver pass was intercepted. The Swashbucklers got a Tenise Uelese eight yard touchdown run and a Chris Mitchell rush on the conversion to claim victory.
The Raiders scored touchdowns on their first six possessions of the game, but fumbled and turned the ball over on downs on consecutive fourth quarter drives. That enabled the Bucs to turn a 13 point deficit into an eight point lead, setting the stage for Warren Smith's one yard touchdown run in the final minute. Smith set team records with 32 completions and 365 yards, and Herb Jones caught a career high five touchdowns and had his third 100 yard game of the season.
In the teams' first meeting this year, the Lions beat the Raiders 48-42, thanks to a 21-0 fourth quarter run that erased a 15 point deficit. The Raiders drove to the Columbus 8 yard line in the final seconds, but a potential tying touchdown pass went off Herb Jones' hands on the last play. The Raiders built their lead thanks to two Lion turnovers but missed a field goal and had a failed fourth down conversion down the stretch. The Lions have not won since that game against the Raiders in Columbus on April 20. Last week, they fell to the Alabama Hammers, 70-43, for their third straight loss. Two Lion fumbles in the third quarter paved the way for Alabama to stretch their lead to 20 points. Lee Chapple became the fourth quarterback to start a game for Columbus this year, and threw for five touchdowns and two interceptions.
Turnovers could weigh heavily in the decision Saturday night. Columbus' defense is second in the league with 14 pickoffs, led by Anthony Shutt, who leads the PIFL with seven interceptions. However, Lions quarterbacks have thrown a league-high 17 interceptions. If the Raiders can hold on to the ball, they have a chance to put some points on the board. The Raiders are second in total offense and third in scoring, while the Lions trail the league in total defense and scoring defense.
The Raiders are one game behind the first place Alabama Hammers and one game ahead of third place Lehigh Valley - and they own the tiebreaker with the SteelHawks - so by winning out, the Raiders would be assured of no worse than the second seed in the playoffs. Meanwhile, Columbus finds itself in sixth place, a full game out of the final playoff spot. The Lions need to leapfrog two teams to become eligible for the postseason, making this game crucial to their playoff aspirations. Saturday's matchup will be on Bike and Play in RVA Night. Bike racks will be available for anyone who rides to the game, and any child 14 and under who brings their bike helmet for a free inspection will also receive a free ticket to the game. Lower level tickets will be available for $10 by presenting your Martin's card - a savings of $3! Some lucky fans will participate in a halftime contest to win a brand new Buick Verano courtesy of Haley Buick GMC. And the Raiders will give away two four-packs of tickets to WWE Monday Night Raw on June 10. Get there early - free thundersticks courtesy of Martin's will be given to kids 14 and under while supplies last.
Round Three in Hawk Battle
The Lehigh Valley Steelhawks (5-4) will be taking on the Knoxville Nighthawks (2-7) for the third time this Saturday, May 25th in the Steelhawks final regular season home game for the 2013 season. The night has been named Fan Appreciation Night and is sponsored by Subway Restaurants. We will be honoring our Nations heroes that night as well as it is also our Salute to Heroes Night. It is also Ladies Night; prior to the game any lady can register to be a part of a mini football clinic and powder-puff game.
Lehigh Valley's offense has been on fire this season, but it is the Steelhawks defense that has been coming on strong the past few weeks. The Steelhawks are on a three game win streak, their longest this season, much in part due to the stops and turnovers the defense has been able to create. In the past two games Lehigh Valley has tallied five interceptions, two from DB Clarence Curry (27 tackles, 4 pbu) against Albany. They forced five turnovers two weeks ago when they faced Knoxville the last time, and have a +11 turnover margin on the season. The defense will be faced with containing Nighthawk QB Ryan Porter (11 tds, 880 yds) and FB Daccus Turman (8 tds, 161 yds). Porter's favorite receiver has been Kelvin Bolden (48 catches for 728 yds, 7 tds) but the most dangerous receiver has been DeAndre Brown (41 catches for 389 yds) who has caught a team leading nine tds.
The Steelhawks' offense will look to continue its dominance under the leadership of league leading QB Adam Bednarik (32 tds, 1,864 yds, 70% completion rate). All three receivers are in the top ten of the league- Tyrone Collins leads the team with 13 tds (651 yds on 62 catches), Tom Gilson (12 tds, 661 yds) has the most receptions with 73, and Torieal Gibson (8 tds, 630 receiving yds on 48 catches) leads the team on yards per catch with 13.
This is the Steelhawks final home game. They will finish the season on the road with two consecutive trips to Georgia, first to Columbus and then to Albany for a rematch with the Panthers.
Lions Face Must Win Situation In Richmond
Down to what seems like their final breath, the Columbus Lions (3-5) of the Professional Indoor Football League (PIFL) face a must-win situation this Saturday when they hit the road to face the Richmond Raiders.
Hard to believe one month ago the Lions were riding high off a two-game winning streak with the ladder a come-from-behind 48-42 victory over the Raiders. Since that April 20th meeting both clubs have gone in different directions with Richmond going 2-1 while Columbus is in the mist of three-game losing streak.
"It's been a domino effect, one thing affecting another" says Columbus Lions Head Coach Jason Gibson. "We need to find that one piece that will stand up and stop the rest of us from falling."
In hopes of ailing a wounded club, the Lions made a couple of mid-week moves bringing in two veterans to help with both sides of the ball. OL Adam Durham (6'5 300 Jacksonville St.) will try and shore-up an offensive line that has been shaky over the past month while DB Ramone Nickerson (5'10 195, Tuskegee) will hopefully bring some much needed leadership on a defense that currently ranks last in total defense (296 yards allowed/game).
Columbus not only faces the tough task of ending their second three-game losing streak in franchise history, but they must do in a venue where the Raiders have gone a combined 10-1 over the past two seasons. Despite being one of the largest venues in the PIFL, the Richmond Coliseum is by far one of the loudest one which the Lions learned first-hand losing twice there last season.
In spite of being in second place and in control of their own playoff destiny, Richmond has a tough road ahead with trips to both Alabama and Albany looming after this weekend. Raiders will have to overcome last weekend's tough 68-66 double overtime loss to the Swashbucklers in which they blew a 13-point second half lead. QB Warren Smith threw for a Raiders-record 350 yards and seven touchdowns and was the first time since Week 4 he did not throw an interception.
Columbus on the other-hand new Columbus QB Lee Chapple made his debut last week and seemed to be on the run for majority of the night completing just 17 of 31 passes for 240 yards while throwing two interceptions in addition to being sacked four times.
WR Gerald Gales continues to appear like he stepped out of the Lazarus Pit catching double-digit touchdowns in three out of the last four games. In the last meeting vs. Richmond Gales hauled in a team-high eight catches for 120 yards and four touchdowns.
In that game one month ago, Columbus overcame a 15-point 4th quarter deficit scoring the final three touchdowns for a 48-42 come-from-behind victory. Smith and the Raiders failed to score on their final three possessions in addition to throwing only one touchdown.
Even though they have one of the league's best rush offenses, the Raiders employ of the most underrated wide receivers in the PIFL with Herb Jones. Jones, who has recorded a reception in 22 consecutive games tied for longest active streak in PIFL with Albany's Antwontis Cutts, has caught multi-touchdown passes in back-to-back games and is currently second in the league in receptions (65).
"It's ride or die time for us," continues Gibson. "We placed our backs to the wall and come Saturday we need to be ready to execute against a team that is well-coached as well as one that run or throw against us."Kickoff on Saturday is at 7:00 PM, fans can catch the action by logging on to www.columbuslions.net and clicking on the Listen Live icon.