The Baltimore Mariners held their inaugural American Indoor Football Association home opener last night with an elaborate pre-game production at 1st Mariner Arena, but it was a rookie quarterback for the Columbus Lions who stole the show.
Maurice Mullins, making his first start for the injured Joey Conrad, threw four touchdown passes and ran for two scores to lead the Lions to a 67-39 victory. The Mariners could not overcome five turnovers and were just 1-for-6 on third-down conversions. Arena officials estimated the crowd at 2,000.
Mariners quarterback Dixie Wooten was under constant pressure and had an uneven performance. He completed nine of 16 passes for 150 yards, with four touchdowns and two interceptions.
The Mariners fell behind 14-0 on the game's first two possessions on a 1-yard run by Mullins and 14-yard fumble return by Elbert Shumake.
Wooten got the Mariners (1-2) back in the game when he found Richard Johnson on a 30-yard pass for the team's first touchdown on its home field. Despite giving up big plays, the Lions held the Mariners to 189 yards of total offense and 12 first downs.
Each time the Lions (2-1) appeared to be pulling away in the first half, Wooten came up with a big throw to keep the Mariners close. Wooten threw for three scores in the second quarter, and Mullins had two touchdown passes as the Lions led 36-25 at the half.