By Jose Bahena
The Carolina Cobras returned to their home turf at the Greensboro Coliseum Saturday night to take on the Massachusetts Pirates, with the Pirates coming in 2-0 on the season and the Cobras still searching for their first win at home.
Carolina won the coin toss and opted to take to the field on offense first. On that opening drive Charles McCullum found Tyron Laughinghouse to be the first on the board 7-0 after a good extra point by Craig Peterson. The Massachusetts Pirates would be able to draw it back to a tie after a touchdown drive, and on the following kick off Ali Mourtada of the Pirates kicking squad hit the first deuce of the game to bring the Pirates out to a 9-7 lead. The home team not looking to get down early in the contest, struck another scoring drive when Fabian Guerra shook off a defender and found the end-zone off a 33 yard pass from McCullum. Peterson’s extra point put the Cobras up 14-9 with three minutes left in the quarter.
Massachusetts couldn’t keep their next drive alive and turned the ball over to Carolina, a short-lived victory as the Cobras would be back up in their own end zone for Peterson to attempt a 60 yard field goal try. The kick came up short and the Pirates’ McNeil was able to return the kick for a Massachusetts touchdown to reclaim the lead, plus a deuce on the kickoff by Mourtada brought the score out to 18-14 for the Pirates. The Carolina offense took over, but fell short on the next drive after McCullum’s run on fourth and two resulted in a turnover on downs.
As the Pirates took over, the Cobra’s good fortune found Defensive Back Keith Lewis in the right place to intercept the Pirates pass from Southwick. Unfortunately for Carolina, the very next play saw Mccullum’s pass bounced off the hand of Fabian Guerra and find its way into the arms of a Pirate defensive back at the 9 yard line. Massachusetts managed a Field goal after the interception to bring it to 21-18 with just 48 seconds left until halftime. The Pirates attempted an onside kick, that was fairly recovered by Jordan Jolly for the Cobras at the 14 yard line, putting the Cobras in prime position to find Tyron Laughinghouse in a diving grab over the wall to tie the score at 21-21 going in to the locker room at the half.
After the Intermission, the Pirates scored on a deep pass backed up at their own 15 yard line on a third and 15, with the extra point kick bouncing off the upright the score sat at 27-21 in favor of Massachusetts. The Cobra’s offense marched the ball down the field on the next drive to score six points on the connection to the receiver waiting in the end zone, Tyrell Goodman. Peterson’s extra point shifted the lead again to the Cobras again 28-27. Despite the combination of Flags and Cobras defense backing the Pirates up on the next drive, Kent’s pass for the pirates still found a soft spot in the cobra’s secondary for another touchdown, but an awkward high snap on the point after attempt costed the pirates a precious point and kept the lead at 33-28 for the visitors from Worcester. The Massachusetts special teams would make up for the mishap by hitting another deuce, pulling ahead 35-28. A long field for the Cobras couldn’t stop McCullum from rattling off a 30 yard touchdown pass to a leaping Jermaine Jones. The Cobras would still trail by a point after Craig Peterson’s kick sailed wide left of the uprights. Once more the Pirates offense wouldn’t shy away from the deep ball on a third down with seventeen yards to go, with Kent’s pass resulting in a touchdown putting Massachusetts up 41-34 headed into the final quarter of play.
In need of points, Carolina’s Goodman stepped up and fought his way into the end zone after quick pass from McCullum, but with a flag on the PAT and the second chance kick still getting blocked the Cobras found themselves unable to tie up the score. Massachusetts looking to defend their perfect record would score again, pulling away with a missed point after kick leaving them with a lead of 47-40. Feeling some pressure of their own, the Cobras reeled it back in to a tied game by finding Guerra with a successful kick after for Peterson. For only the second time of the contest, the Pirates would be unable to come up with points when the Cobras defense buckled down and force another turnover on downs shifting the momentum to the home team.
After a failed attempt to challenge a play by Pirates head Coach Ameer Ismail and a Unsportsmanlike conduct flag against him as well, McCullum fired the ball over the middle to hit Fabian Guerra for his third touchdown reception of the game. Peterson’s extra point would again be wide of the goal posts and leave the Cobras with a lead of 52-47. During the extra point attempt, Pirates head coach would again earn himself another unsportsmanlike conduct flag for throwing his headset and clipboard, followed immediately by a third misconduct penalty that would disqualify him from the field. After the dust settled Peterson hit the first Carolina deuce of the night to bring his team out 55-47 with just three minutes left in regulation. The Carolina Cobras defense drove home the final nail in the coffin of Massachusetts perfect record when Cobra’s Lineman Tony Pulu dove on a fumbled backwards pitch by the Pirates with just 51 seconds left and a Carolina home win all but secured.
The Carolina Cobras are now 2-1 on the season and will travel next week to take on the 1-2 Jacksonville Sharks in a rematch of the week 1 contest on Saturday April 28th. The game will be broadcast via the National Arena Leagues YouTube Live streaming service.
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