By Eric Tabor
A key Southern Indoor Football League battle took place Saturday night at the Albany Civic Center between the Albany Panthers and Richmond Raiders. The Panthers came into this game with one of the most impressive records in the league at 6-0, and they did not disappoint.
“It was a must-win game, and they (Richmond) were in our way,” said Panther wide receiver John “Ochocinco” Harris. “We had to get this win.”
Albany’s defense held Mike Potts and the Raiders offense in check most of the game.
“It’s about the guys playing together,” said head coach Lucious Davis. “The guys are doing exactly what I want them to do in coverage and up front.”
“We sent a message to Richmond,” said Panther fan Kate Tabor, “Tonight they (the players) proved we have a great team, and the only thing we have to do is build, and keep on winning.”
Albany also capitalized on five turnovers in the game, with Demetrie McCray getting three interceptions, and LeVance “The Showstopper” Richmond claiming two more thefts.
As the defense shined, so did the offense, with Antwone Savage being on the receiving end of three TD’s, while John Harris got seven grabs for 86 yards and two touchdowns. Derrick Winbush, Clenton Rafe, and Antwontis Cutts each had one touchdown reception.
“Our plan on offense was just to execute the game plan, hats off to Coach (Davis) for calling a great game,” said Antwone Savage.
When you accompany great defense with a great offense, you have a recipe for success.
Davis said, “It’s a good thing, as a head coach, knowing that you put this group together, knowing that they can make the plays that they were going out there making. I’m just thrilled right know, and I hope that we can keep it going.”
The Raiders, on the other hand, are beat up and injured, and they struggled to find the end zone. Mike Potts struggled mightily and the Raiders’ offensive line was not able to block anybody.
Newly signed Panther defensive lineman Jacob Hardwick, veteran end Tito Hanna, and Andre Campbell combined for a total of four sacks.
If Saturday’s game was any indication of how the rest of the Panthers season will go, we are all in for a major treat. Albany wins 61-46.
Game Report Card
Offense – B
The offense played a solid game. Lester went 24-36 on passing with one interception and there were three fumbles two of which Albany recovered. The offensive line did a decent job protecting the quarterback.
Defense – A
The defense had five interceptions and four sacks. If this defense continues to show up for the rest of the season the Panthers have a chance to go undefeated.
Special Teams – D
Albany had one extra point attempt blocked and a missed field goal. These were the only negatives on the special teams this week. They had very poor kick coverage, but decent kick returns. They did a terrible job handling both of Richmond’s onside kicks.
Offensive Player of the Game: Cecil Lester – 24-36-1 for 320 yards and eight TDs
Defensive Player of the Game: Demetrie McCray – three interceptions
Panthers’ next game: Columbus Lions at home on Saturday, May 14.