by Jose Bahena
The Carolina Cobras hit the road for their first away game of the season as they traveled 850 miles north to the home opener for the northernmost team in the NAL, the Maine Mammoths of Portland.
After both of these teams suffered Week 1 loses, the Cobras struck quickly on an opening drive that ended with a 2 yard rushing TD by quarterback Charles McCullum but Craig Peterson would miss the extra point kick. The Mammoths responded quickly with a 30 yard strike to Derek Macon making it a tie game at 6-6 after a missed Point after try of their own.
Not to be out done, the visiting Carolina team scored again on a two play drive to Tyron Laughinghouse making the score 13-6. The next drive for Maine would only produce 3 points from a field goal. Cobras head coach Billy Back would call up the designed run for McCullum once more when the ball returned to his team and brought the score out to 19-9 after another missed PAT for Peterson. The Next possession of Maine would end abruptly with Carolina’s Defensive Back Ceric Poole snagging an interception in a dive over the wall. Eager to capitalize on the turnout, Carolina would end with 6 points after an offsides flag against the Mammoths would allow McCullum a third rushing touchdown, but the extra point was blocked leaving the score at 25-9. Just 10 seconds before the end of the second quarter, the Mammoths would take a page from the Carolina playbook as Maine’s Quarterback Jonathan Bane rushed in from 2 yds for a Touchdown. With a missed dropkick the scoreboard showed 25-15 at the end of the half.
The home team had possession entering the 2nd , but their long 7 minute drive ended with an a second Cobras interception by Michael Green, who would run it back to the 20 yard line and give the Cobras a big field advantage. Just two played later, Mccullum would show off the arm and hit a narrow window to last week’s stand out Wide Reciever Phillip Barnett, and Craig Peterson would finally find the uprights for the second time to make it a 30-15.
Looking rattled, Bane was sacked back at his own 6 yd line by Cobras Lineman Omari Manhertz after the kick off, putting the Mammoths in a bind and having to attempt a 63 yard field goal from inside their own endzone. The Cobras would recover the missed kick and break the Mammoths special teams to run it back to the 10 yard line, from there it would be easy work for the cobras to find Tyrell Goodman in back of the endzone, Peterson’s extra point kick made it 39-15.
Life was breathed into the Maine team as Edgar Poe would make a breakaway and close the gap 39-22 after the extra point kick. Mammoths would attempt an onside kick to try an offensive spark but the attempt ended in a Cobras possession at the 11 line. A late flag against a Mammoth for a late hit saved the Cobras drive and Craig Peterson managed 3 points to put the score 42-22 in Carolina’s favor. Billy Back would choose to attempt the onside attempt, a regretful decision as Maine recovered and struck fast to Devin Wilson to cut the Cobras lead to 13 points. Wide Receiver Fabian Guerra answered with a touchdown from 8 yards out for the visitors, with Peterson in rhythm bringing it back to a 49-29 game with just 5 minutes left in the contest. Not willing to throw in the towel, Maine’s Edgar Poe found himself stretched out for another six points for his team and with a good PAT, the Mammoths team would pull it within reach at 49-36.
With 60 seconds left in the contest and both teams looking for their first win in either franchises short history, there would be enough for the McCullum to find Guerra for the second time in the end zone. Bane would search one last time to find the endzone and pull it back to a 42-56 game. With clock running short, Maine botched their last-ditch effort for a third onside attempt. Good enough for the Cobras to find their first win as a NAL Team with a 56-42 score.
The historic win puts the Carolina Cobras at 1-1 on the seasons as they return home to take on the undefeated Massachusetts Pirates (2-0) on Saturday, April 21st with a 7pm kick off at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex.