The Carolina Cobras hosted the #1 Jacksonville Sharks in Greensboro looking to end a Sharks six game winning streak on Saturday night. Being a head to head match-up of the top two teams in the National Arena League, fans were expecting quite a showing. Unfortunately for Carolina, the Sharks outmuscled them after halftime and walked away with a big 55-29 victory.
The Sharks started the game with a bang as kicker Brandon Behr sailed a kick right through the uprights for two points on the opening kickoff. Wanting to show they could hang with the best, Carolina’s Charles McCullum rallied his offensive unit down the field and found Kyrin Priester open for a diving touchdown and early lead. Keeping pressure on both sides of the ball, the Cobras defense stopped and forces a turnover on downs against the Sharks. To drive the point home, Carolina’s LaVon Pearson was able to extend the lead with a touchdown reception of his own from McCullum. Cobras kicker Brandon Rutherford recovered the bobbled snap on the extra point try to gain another extra point with a drop kick per NAL Arena Football rules and bring the score to 15-2 to end the quarter.
Jacksonville again opened the following quarter with a scoring drive. This time it was quarterback Mike Fafaul to receiver Jarmon Fortson for the first Sharks touchdown of the night. The Sharks defense also sprang to life in the second quarter, forcing a long 55 yard field goal attempt for Rutherford that wasn’t able to connect with the goal posts.The turnover allowed Jacksonville to continue the aerial assault with Fafaul finding Durron Neal and Devin Wilson before the end of the half. Between those drives Carolina was able to score a touchdown of their own with a pitch out to fullback Dashawn Johnson for his fifth scoring reception of the season. The combination of scoring left Carolina down when headed to the locker rooms 22-25.
Back on the turf for the next half Carolina was first to score with a rushing touchdown by McCullum on a keeper. Looking to get in the game defensively, Michael Green was able to pull in an impressive interception of Fafaul and prevent a scoring chance. A Short lived victory as the following drive fizzled out without ticking up any points for Carolina. A mishandled shovel pass turned the ball over to Jacksonville and let Fafaul find Kamrin Solomon open to regain the lead at 29-32. Just two plays later McCullum was picked off by defensive back of Jacksonville Seth Ellis. The mistake ended up costing Carolina another six points when Sharks fullback Zack Brown cross the goal line on a designed handoff play. Behr split the uprights again for a second deuce kick to end the third quarter of play. Jacksonville sat comfortable with a two possession lead at 29-41.
The Carolina Cobras comeback attempt was rapidly snuffed by an interception on the fourth quarter opening drive by Marcus Smith of the defense for Jacksonville. Once more Fafaul- Wilson made the connection to pull further away from Carolina with a 19 point lead. The next five back and forth drives by both teams proved fruitless. Carolina with a drive ended by Ellis getting the pick on McCullum for the second time in the game, and Jacksonville having one drive ending with a wide field goal right by Behr. The Sharks struck again with just under two minutes on the clock, Fafaul to Wilson salted the game away at the final score of 29-55. Carolina rolled out one more possession that was unable to produce in the waning seconds of play.
The winning streak continues for Jacksonville at seven games as they take on the New York Streets next week The loss for Carolina is the second home loss for the Cobras and drops them to 6-3 on the season. The following week will be a timely bye week for Carolina as they look to regroup before hitting the road and taking on the Orlando Predators on June 30th. The Sunday game will be live streamed on the National Arena League’s YouTube channel and fans are encouraged to join the Carolina Cobras road game watch party at Cooper’s Ale House on South Swing Road in Greensboro.
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