The Albany Panthers (11-2) franchise didn't know what a home playoff celebration might feel like after last year's disappointing 41-35 first round loss to the Louisiana Swashbucklers.
On Saturday night, the Panthers got their second chance at Civic Center postseason glory, and the team relished in the moment.
Albany rolled to a 68-43 victory over the Erie Explosion in a complete team effort. The Panthers will face their division rival, the Columbus Lions, for the SIFL Eastern Conference championship in Columbus next Saturday.
It couldn't have started much better for the Panthers. Kicker Geoff Boyer hit a one-point uno on the opening kickoff, and Panthers quarterback Cecil Lester connected with receiver Antwone Savage for touchdowns on the first two offensive possessions.
The Albany defense made its mark on the Midwest Division champions, as well. The Explosion didn't pack much of a punch on offense tonight. Erie entered the contest averaging over 70 points a game. The Panthers held all that offensive firepower to just 43 points. The secondary forced seven interceptions and placed constant pressure on SIFL passing leader Adam DiMichele.