Destroyers Missed chances cost Columbus a second victory
Just a week removed from its first win since returning to the Arena Football League, the Columbus Destroyers took the field at Nationwide Arena hoping to capture win number two against the Baltimore Brigade. Unfortunately for the hosts, Brigade receiver Brandon Collins proved virtually unstoppable Saturday afternoon. The fifth-year pro caught seven passes for 132 yards and three touchdowns. Collins efforts proved critical in the 44-39 Baltimore victory.
For the second straight week, a strong first possession gave Columbus momentum early on. Quarterback Grant Russell connected with wide receiver Paul Browning for an early touchdown, but emergency kicker Tyler Durbin couldn’t convert the extra point. Baltimore quarterback Shane Boyd answered on the next possession hooking up with the aforementioned Collins for a 23-yard touchdown toss. A converted extra point from kicker Lane Clark allowed the visitors to claim a slim 7-6 lead.
Both teams traded scores throughout the first quarter, but following an 11-yard touchdown catch from Brigade receiver Joe Hills things became interesting. With the game tied at 13 apiece, kicker Lane Clark would miss the extra point and momentum swung back towards the Destroyers.
Each team added a score to retreat into the locker room at the break tied a 20.
The Columbus defense made its presence known early on in the third quarter as linemen Nick Seither collected a strip sack, but couldn’t maintain possession, fumbling the football in the endzone. Baltimore recovered the ball and it was ruled a touchback.
The Brigade made the most of the second chance as quarterback Shane Boyd linked up with Brandon Collins once again. The receiver ran 37-yards for another touchdown. The visitors scored on back-to-back possessions to extend the lead to 41-27. Thinking the lead was insurmountable, fans began heading for the exits.
The Destroyers managed to rally in the dying moments of the game, scoring twice within a five-minute span to close the gap. Unfortunately, the lead proved too great to overcome and Columbus drops to 1-7 following a 44-39 loss at the hands of the Brigade.
Columbus understandably were riding high following last week’s win. The mood around practice was very positive, but the team appeared to be out of sync during key moments of Saturday’s contest. Whether it was an overthrown pass by Grant Russell or a mistimed route from one of the receivers, the small missteps added up over the course of a game.
Head coach Matthew Sauk cited three key game situations that could have translated to points. If the Destroyers convert in those situations, the story of this game shifts dramatically.
It’s unreal to think that someone can go 100 straights games with a touchdown catch but that’s exactly what Baltimore Brigade receiver Joe Hills accomplished on Saturday night his catch with 3:23 remaining in the first quarter was received positively by members of the Brigade bench as they were very aware of the milestone. Not to be outdone, Columbus receiver Donovan Morgan moved into sixth place on the all-time list for receiving yards in Arena Football history.
Columbus keeps its homestand rolling against the Philadelphia Soul on Saturday, June 22nd. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Nationwide Arena.