Special to the Journal
LAKE CHARLES, LA – The back-to-back and defending Professional Indoor Football League champion Albany Panther’s dominant road performance against the Louisiana Swashbucklers on Saturday, March 9th could not have been a more auspicious start to its 2013 season. The team jumped out to an early 14-0 lead with two touchdown runs from Derrick Winbush in the opening quarter and never looked back. Behind a strong defense and an unstoppable passing attack, the Panthers handily defeated the Bucs 51-40.
The Panther defense set the tone on the opening drive from scrimmage, when defensive lineman Anton ‘All Hail’ Ceaser blocked an Ernesto Lacayo fieldgoal, Damian ‘Nighthawk’ Daniels recovered and returned the ball 19 yards to the Swashbucklers goal line. The turnover gave Albany’s offense a short field for its first drive, which began at the Bucs 1-yard line. Two plays later, the Panthers took the lead when Derrick Winbush walked around the left end for a touchdown.
Following the opening touchdown, the Panthers defense forced another turnover on a missed fieldgoal, Once again, after several pass completions, Winbush plowed into the endzone for another score. Cecil Lester completed 26 of 39 of his passing attempts for 269 yards and five touchdowns that night. Two possessions later, Lester would add another touchdown to give the Panthers a 28-14 lead midway through the second quarter. Linebacker Larry Edwards had three tackles before leaving the game at halftime due to a knee injury. Fortunately for the Cats, the injury is not thought to be serious, and Edwards is expected to return to action shortly.
Despite failing to score in the first quarter, Bucs made the game interesting in the second quarter as a pair of touchdown passes by former Panther Chris Mitchell making it a 28-22 game heading into halftime. However, the result was never in doubt, as Albany resumed domination of the Bucs on both sides of the football. The Panthers defense would not give up much during the second half, as they held Bucs near scoreless yet again. Defensive back Cory Rue was a force in the third quarter with five of his team-leading 10 tackles during the frame.
The Panthers will make its first appearance at home this upcoming weekend, as the team looks to improve its record to 2-0 versus the Columbus Lions. Last season, Albany fell to the Lions on the road by a score of 58-56, a result the Cats are eager to avenge. Kickoff is at 7:30 pm on Saturday, March 16th at Phoebe Field at the Albany James H. Gray Civic Center.
You can catch all the action on 97.3 WGEX-FM.
Defensive Player of the Game: Anton Ceaser (One blocked field goal, ?? sacks and ?? tackles)
Offensive Player of the Game: Cecil Lester (26-39 267 yards five touchdowns)
Special Teams Player of the Game: Ryan Gates (7-7 on PAT’s)
Albany Panther season tickets are still available to the 2012 season, one of the best values in all of professional sports, by calling the Albany Panthers offices at (229) 435-1230 or logging on to www.albanypanthers.net.