Special to the Journal
ALBANY, GA – Saturday night’s showdown between the back-to-back and defending league champion Albany Panthers (3-0) and The Alabama Hammers (2-1), the only two of the Professional Indoor Football League’s undefeated teams, was expected to be a physical, high-scoring affair.
Alabama came into a hostile environment and used an outstanding defensive effort but came up short, 64-51.
“It’s a good win for the franchise,” Albany Panthers head coach Lucious Davis said. “We prep the same way every week and the team worked hard during the week. We call Saturday pay day and you’ve got to work to get paid and that’s what we did tonight.”
The Warriors looked good on offense early in the first quarter as Cecli Lester connected with John Harris, who took it 20 yards to the house to give Albany a 7-0 lead. The two teams struggled on defense, however, as Albany had some miscues with a missed field goal, a fumble in the endzone, and a safety. Alabama had its woes also as they failed to break the 100-yard mark in the first half and turned the ball over four times.
Three of Lester’s TD passes went to Antwon Cutts, who finished with 11 catches for 138 yards, while John Harris caught eight passes for 113 yards and three scores.
“The team really stepped it up this week in practice,” Carter added about his team’s performance. “We knew they had a good offense and a good defense so we just had to play solid on both sides of the ball.”
The Panthers defense continued to stifle the Hammers all night as Damien “The Nighthawk” Daniels picked Russell Hill off two times, including a drive killer in the fourth quarter that help extend the Panthers lead.
Entering Saturday’s game, Daniels did not have an interception this season.
The two teams combined for six turnovers.
Albany will put its undefeated record on the line once again in two weeks as they travel to Knoxville, Tennessee to play the Knoxville Nighthawks while Alabama will try to bounce back at home against the Columbus Lions.
Offensive Player of the Game: Cecil Lester (23 of 34 for 291 yards and eight TD’s)
Defensive Player of the Game: Damien Daniels (2 interceptions)
Special Teams Player of the Game: Ryan Gated (8-8 PAT’s and an UNO)