Special to the Journal
ALBANY, GA – In a thriller, enthusiastic fans witnessed the Albany Panthers (2-0) top the Columbus Lions (1-1) 40-37. Kicker Ryan Gates provided the heroics with a 29 yard, game winning field goal following a brilliant Panther offensive series.
Columbus dominated the first quarter, jumping out to a 6-0 lead, before the Panthers began battling back. Albany started their comeback when Derrick Wimbush scored a touchdown to start the second quarter.
Both teams put on an offensive show as they traded scores throughout the half. The action was highlighted by Lions WR Maurice Dupree 46 yard touchdown reception from Lion QB Marcus Davis. The Panthers lead the Lions 15-13 as the half ended.
The second half began with a huge defensive play by Corey Rue who tipped and intercepted Marcus Jones, returned it back to the Lions two yard line. Lester scored on a 1 yard rush shortly after to make it a 22-13 lead.
Columbus seemed to have an answer for every Panthers score and had a four point lead late in the fourth quarter when Lester hit a crossing Antwontis Cutts for 6. Albany took a 3 point lead. Lions’ kicker Chandler Brooks tied the game with just over 12 seconds left. On Albany’s ensuing possession, Lester found John Harris on a quick hitter. Harris picked up big first down yardage and was taken down in Columbus territory before Gates sent the Panthers to 2-0 with his 28 yard kick.
The Panthers are home again next week as they host the Alabama Hammers. Seats are still available for Saturday’s game. Tickets are as low as $12. For more information, call 229.430.4500 or visit www.albanypanthers.net.
Offensive Player of the Game: Maurice Dupree
Defensive Player of the Game: Cory Rue (1 interception and 8 tackles)
Special Teams Player of The Game: Ryan Gates (5-for-5 on PATs, two Uno’s and the game winning field goal with 1.9 seconds left)