Panthers QB Lester receives PIFL Offensive Player of the Week honors

Panthers QB Cecil Lester had seven total TDs in Saturday's season-opening win against the Swashbucklers.

Panthers QB Cecil Lester had seven total TDs in Saturday's season-opening win against the Swashbucklers.

ALBANY — Albany Panthers quarterback Cecil Lester began his ninth indoor football season with a bang on Saturday.

Lester, a former Fort Valley State University standout, was named the Offensive Player of the Week in the Professional Indoor Football League after leading the Panthers to a 50-41 win in Saturday’s season opener against the Louisiana Swashbucklers.

Lester completed 26-of-39 passes for 269 yards and threw five touchdowns to five different receivers.

The Panthers never trailed in the game and scored on their first eight possessions to beat the Swashbucklers for the sixth straight time.

“Our goal is to score every time we touch the ball,” Lester said after the game. “Not to take anything away from them, Louisiana is going to be good, but we are the two-time champs.”

Lester, who also rushed for two TDs in the first quarter to give the Panthers an early 14-0 lead, didn’t throw an interception and now leads the PIFL in passing after the first week of the season.

Lester and the Panthers take on rival Columbus next in Albany’s home opener on Saturday.

Last season, Lester was 2-0 against the Lions, who beat the Panthers, 58-56, on May 6 in a game where Lester sat out due to an injury.

In his two games against the Lions, Lester threw for seven TDs and rushed for another. He completed 31 of his 54 passes and tossed four interceptions.

The Lions are coming off a 58-28 win against the Knoxville Nighthawks on Saturday, when Columbus jumped out to a 28-7 lead thanks two three special teams and defensive touchdowns — a 40-yard missed FG return by LeRoy Vann to open the game, a blocked field goal that was landed on in the end zone by Justen Rivers and a 43-yard fumble return by Marvi Bohannon.

The Lions also picked off Knoxville QB Josh McGregor two times.

Columbus, Albany and the Alabama Hammers are all tied atop to the PIFL standings with 1-0 records.

The Panthers will host the Hammers March 23 and then travel to Alabama for a rematch on April 13.

Albany and Columbus will meet for the second time this season on June 8 in the Columbus Civic Center.