By Jose Bahena
For the first time this season the Carolina Cobras traveled to Worcester to take on the Massachusetts Pirates in the final regular season meeting between the two teams on Saturday night. The Pirates won the coin toss and deferred to start the second half. The opening kickoff netted Massachusetts two points with a deuce kick by the home team’s Ali Mortada.
Carolina’s opening drive was cut short after Jolly fumbled away at the 20 yard line, and recovered by a Pirates. After a called back touchdown by the Pirates was smartly challenged by Cobras head coach Billy Back, the Pirates still managed to score 6 on the short field leaving the cobras down 10-0 after a successful drop-kick. The Cobras offense hit the turf of the DCU Center and drove down towards the goal line. Charles McCullum was able to match the Pirates touchdown by finding Phillip Barnett uncovered in the end zone. Craig Peterson’s first PAT went wide of the goal post, leaving the Cobras down 10-6. Sean Brackett and the Pirates struck quickly again, on a one play drive to the end zone.
A missed drop-kick attempt left the Massachusetts home team up 16-6. The Cobras tried to close the gap on their next possession but ultimately was forced a turnover on downs. Back on their home field, the Pirates gave the Cobras defense Deja Vu with another one-shot play to end zone for a touchdown, followed by another missed Drop-kick attempt. The score sat at 22-6 at the end of the first quarter.
The Cobras were about to cut to Pirates lead on the opening drive of the second quarter by chipping away at the 30 yards need, finally finding Fabian Guerra across the goal line for a Cobras touchdown. Peterson was positive on his point after attempt to make the score 13-22.
On the kickoff Peterson was able to hang a deuce to make it 15-22 before the Pirates took the field again. Cobras Defense was firing on all cylinders as Michael Green Intercepted the ball and made the house call for a pick six. Peterson tied the game on the extra point at 22-22. Brackett wasn’t looking to be outdone at home, again backing up the Carolina defense for another touchdown pass. The Pirates extra point went wide of the goal to make it a 28-22 game in favor of Massachusetts.
McCullum continued the gun show, driving down to find Jordan Jolly for a Cobras touchdown. Peterson seemed to have found his rhythm and nailed the extra point to take the first Cobras lead of the game. Just 55 seconds to work with before halftime, the Pirates offensive unit trotted out again. 18 seconds is all the Pirates needed to score another touchdown, bring the score out to 34-29 after a penalty filled two point conversion that failed for the Pirates. Time running slim, the Cobras worked down the field for another touchdown. Peterson nudged the ball through for an extra point, putting the Cobras back on top at 36-34 with 25 seconds left in the half. Carolina’s defense made a statement by end the half with another Green Interception and preserving their slim lead.
After the intermission, the Pirates were determined to gain the lead back. That idea was spoiled by a Cobras defense that held Massachusetts to a missed field goal attempt. The Cobras offense worked the blue turf of the DCU back to the 1 yard line but unfortunately a mishandled snap resulted in a fumble that was jumped on by the Pirates defenders. A long drive by the Pirates ran out the clock in the third quarter, ending with the home team on the five yard line entering the final 15 minutes of play.
Massachusetts finished the drive with a touchdown after the clock restarted. The point after kick was wide of the uprights to make the score 40-36 with the Carolina Cobras down.Trying to finish the sweep of the Pirates, McCullum was able to drive down with help from Fabian Guerra, and find Jolly open for a touchdown to reclaim the lead. Peterson hit the extra point to settle the score at 42-40. Peterson hit his second deuce of the contest on the kickoff to stretch the lead to five points. Pinned back at their own yard line, Brackett fired deep to the end zone for a touchdown reception. A two point conversion for the Pirates pulled them ahead in the scoreboard tug of war to 48-45.
Mortada was able to return the favor and nail another deuce himself to bring the tally to 50-45 for the PIrates. Another long drive let the Cobras burn the clock down before they scored with the McCullum-Goodman Connection. Head Coach Back dialed up the two point conversion to the dismay of the Pirates as it was successful. 53-50 with the Carolina Cobras on top and just two minutes in the contest. Massachusetts hit the needed touchdown to win as time expired on a fourth down shot to the end zone.
Final score of 56-53 for the Massachusetts Pirates as they avoid the sweep by Carolina. The Loss drops the Cobras to 8-5 on the season, while the Pirates move up to 10-4. The carolina Cobras are back on the road next week to take on the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks in Allentown, PA.