Following 1st loss, Panthers look to rebound tonight

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

Want To Go, Listen or Follow Online?

WHO: Louisiana Swashbucklers (3-4) at Albany Panthers (6-1).

WHAT: Panthers’ eighth game of season.

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. today.

WHERE: Civic Center.

RADIO: 97.3 FM.

LIVE UPDATES: Log onto twitter.com/AlbHeraldSports.

ALBANY — There’s only one cure for the blues that come with losing.

And that’s winning — and winning big.

Following their first defeat of the 2012 season last week in a last-second field goal at the hated Columbus Lions, the Albany Panthers (6-1) hope to do just that tonight when they meet the Louisiana Swashbucklers (3-4) for the third time this season.

Of course, the mood and preparation for the third meeting have been very different than the first two, said Panthers coach Lucious Davis.

“We’re not used to losing, so the mood this week has been somber. It’s strange,” he said Friday. “But I think, overall, we’re going to be OK. We know what we have to do, and that’s bounce back and get a win. And that’s been the focus all week.”

That sometimes-somber mood about the Panthers this week likely lightened when the team learned that starting quarterback Cecil Lester will be back tonight after he missed the game against Columbus with a knee injury. Davis said Friday that Lester has a slight tear in his meniscus and that after two weeks of rest, his star is ready to go.

“He’ll play (tonight),” said Davis, whose team almost pulled off the win last week with newly signed backup Darnell Kennedy. Kennedy had only one day of practice with his new teammates, and Davis said while the former Georgia Force QB played well, he noticed a big difference in the way the team operated with Kennedy under center compared to Lester.

“Every time I would call a play, his response was, ‘What’s that?’ or ‘Who’s that go to again?’ ” Davis said with a slight laugh. “But Darnell played well given the circumstances. You have to understand, before that game, he hadn’t played football in about two months — and we still almost won.”

So does Davis think Albany would’ve romped rival Columbus had Lester been able to go?

“Yeah, easy,” he said.

The PIFL top-dog Panthers beat Louisiana in the first game of the season on a last-second TD from Lester to Clenton Rafe, 58-55, then turned around and beat the Swashbucklers again a week later at the Civic Center, 52-38, behind a staunch defensive effort led by DB Levance Richmond. But Davis said Friday that Richmond is suspended for the rest of the season after he was ejected during last week’s game against the Lions for throwing a punch. Replacing Richmond will be former Alcorn State star and Mississippi native Kirderra Hall, who was signed this week.