Cobras Beat Massachusetts 30-26, Advance to NAL Championship.
from DJ Wagner Staff Writer(Carolina Cobras)
In what was a battle of the #2 and #3 offenses, this was a total defensive struggle as the two teams combined for just 56 points, there were five total turnovers, eight combined sacks, and multiple times where teams were stopped on downs. The great news is that the Carolina Cobras (10-5) prevailed, beating Massachusetts Pirates (8-7) by a score of 30-26 and will advance to face the winner of the Columbus Lions vs Jacksonville Shark game (Tuesday), for the NAL Championship on August 17, 2019, the location has yet to be determined.
This was a sloppy game on the offensive side of the ball for both teams as the defenses dominated. The Cobras got the ball and drove down the field, only to be turned over on downs as QB Charles McCullum was sacked on fourth down. The Pirates were not able to answer as they too turned it over on downs. On the next Cobras drive Jordan Jolly fumbled and turned it back over to the Pirates. This time the Pirates capitalized, with a 20-yard pass from QB Sean Brackett to Rannell Hall for the score. With the PAT it was 7-0 Pirates and that is how we ended the first quarter.
In the second quarter the Cobras were able to move the ball downfield. After going five plays and 30 yards it was a 3-yard sweep by Kyrin Priester for the TD, the PAT was good, and it was tied at 7. It only took the Pirates one play to answer with a 45-yard pass to Thomas Owens, the PAT was good, and it was 14-7 Pirates. After more offensive struggles for both teams it was the Cobras striking next. With 2:40 left in the half it was McCullum to Jolly for 41-yards, the PAT was missed, and it was 14-13 Pirates. On the final drive of the half the Pirates took the ball 30 yards in six plays and it was Hall with his second TD catch of the night from eight yards out, the PAT was good, and it was the Pirates leading 21-13 at the half.
The second half the defenses tightened down even more. The Cobras stopped the Pirates on the opening drive of the second half and were able to answer with a 32-yard pass to LaVon Pearson for the TD, the initial PAT was missed, but a penalty was called on the Pirates, the ball was moved to the one yard line and on the PAT try, the Cobras went for two and it was good with James Summers running it in for the PAT and we were tied again and 21. The Pirates were almost stopped on their next drive, but Mike Weaver nailed a 40-yard FG to make it was 24-21 Pirates lead. On the next Cobras drive Charles McCullum was sacked in the end zone for a safety and the lead was extended to 26-21. Brandon Rutherford negated the safety on the very next play as he knocked down the Deuce to get the Cobras within 26-23. That was our score at the end of the third quarter.
The fourth quarter was absolutely insane, and if you weren’t at the Coliseum you missed a total defensive masterpiece. Neither team could really move the ball until about halfway through the quarter as the Cobras went on a 10-play drive that covered 37 yards and finished with a 2-yard run by Charles McCullum on a great fake and bootleg keeper. The PAT was good, and it made it 30-26 Cobras with about 8:46 to go. The Pirates got the ball back and drove down the field, but the Cobras defense stood up and got the ball back on downs, with 3:48 remaining in the game. They attempted to drive down and run down the clock but were only able to get it down to about a minute left when Brandon Rutherford missed from 40-yards out with 0:57 seconds left in the game. The Pirates drove the length of the field and on first and goal from the three, the Cobras defense struck, with a huge sack on Brackett by Micah Robinson and Steve Miller, which kept the clock running under 7 seconds when Sean Brackett heaved a ball into the endzone to Thomas Owens, who was battling with Cedric Poole along the sideline, there were questions on just who caught the ball, as it looked like both players had it at one point, and the clock read 0:00. The officials reviewed the play and determined that someone on the Massachusetts bench touched the ball, but that there were 2.1 seconds left and the Pirates had one more shot. So, on the final play of the game from the Cobras 12-yard line, Sean Brackett fired a pass to Hall, but it was well overthrown, and the Cobras won the game 30-26.
The defensive stars of the game for the Cobras have to be SeVon Pittman who had a Sack, 3 TFL, 1 Forced Fumble and 1 Fumble Recovery. Micah Robinson had 2.5 TFL, 1.5 Sacks. Kenny Veal had a INT in the end zone to stop a TD, and Michael Green led with 4 Pass Break Ups. Steve Miller had 1.5 TFL and a sack and Dante Holmes had the other 0.5 sack.
Offensively it was Jordan Jolly with 8 catches for 96 yards and a TD, Von Pearson had 6 catches for 82 yards and a TD, and Priester and McCullum had the two rushing TDs.
If you want the Cobras to host the NAL Championship you want to pull for the Columbus Lions to beat the Jacksonville Sharks on Tuesday night. If the Sharks win the Cobras will travel to Jacksonville for the NAL Championship, their second in two years. If the Lions win it will be a rematch of the 2018 NAL Championship in Greensboro.