Nashville, TN – After stops in Huntsville, AL and Albany, GA, the PIFL Champions Cup officially has a new home in Nashville, Tennessee as the Nashville Venom (12-2) of the Professional Indoor Football League (PIFL) defeated the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks (7-7) 64-43 to capture their first ever championship.Like they had done all season, Nashville proved to be the more physical team controlling both sides of the line of scrimmage while counting on their big play receivers to make plays on offense. The Venom defense collected three sacks while intercepting two passes including the eventual game sealing INT by DB Kenny Veal who promptly returned the pick thirteen yards for a TD.
Feeling the momentum of two huge wins to propel them into the Championship Game, Lehigh Valley appeared stagnant the game’s opening half at one point falling behind 24-4. Proving them have some Championship pedigree, the Hawks score two straight touchdowns knocking their deficit down to just a touchdown.
But like they did for majority of the night, just when it appeared the Steelhawks were ready to gain momentum the Venom offense would answer back as WR Jordan Jolly caught his second of three touchdowns to close out the first half giving Nashville a 32-17 halftime lead. Jolly, who was awarded earlier in the week as member of the 2014 PIFL 1st Team, finished the night hauling ten receptions for 156 yards and three touchdowns, all game-high’s.
With the Venom defense towering in front of him, Lehigh QB Shane McSweeney found very few throwing lanes completing just 18 of 42 passes for 171 yards and 3 TD’s. Most of McSweeny’s damage was done on the ground rushing ten times for 59 yards and 3 scores. WR Brandon Renford was the top Hawks receiving target grabbing seven receptions for 73 yards with two end-zone trips. Lacking the downfield threat, McSweeney and company completed just five passes for more than ten yards.
Nashville closed out the second half getting points on four of their final five offensive possessions, with only stop coming with just 55 seconds remaining in the contest. Led by game MVP QB Charles McCullum, the Venom offense put up 304 yards of offense averaging over 15 yards per completion. McCullum ended the game by completing 17 of 28 passes for 260 yards accounting for six total TD’s.
The expansion Venom become the first ever expansion team in league history to win a championship and did so by closing out the year winning five straight home games as well as a PIFL record nine overall. It’s the first ever title for the city of Nashville and it’s a continuation of the dominance the members of the American Conference enjoyed with the four teams combining to go 12-7 during the 2014 season.
Meanwhile, Lehigh’s loss puts an end to a miraculous two-game run that saw them capture the National Conference Championship by first defeating Richmond in a play-in style game on the regular season’s final week before upsetting the first-place Freedom for the PIFL’s first ever road playoff win.
The 2014 PIFL season may have come to an end but that doesn’t mean you have to stop reading up on your PIFL news. Stay tuned to www.proifl.com especially next week as the league will hand down individual awards including the Rookies of the Year and League MVP.