Cobras Take First Game of the 2019 Season Beating the Pirates
The National Arena League Kicked off the 2019 Season on Saturday and the Defending NAL Champion Carolina Cobras visited the Massachusetts Pirates for Game 1 and Felix Zolla was at the DCU Center in Worcester, Massachusetts with My4one2 keeping our Arena Fans #LockedIN.
The Cobras (1-0) struck quickly on their opening drive as fullback Deshawn Johnson, punched in the first touchdown of the season from one yard out against his former team. The Pirates (0-1) answered back with a touchdown of their own coming from full back Quayvon Hicks on a short two yard run. After a solid defensive effort from Massachusetts, the Cobras were able to capitalize on fourth and two at the Massachusetts 22 yard line due to a Pirates defensive off side penalty which extended the drive, leading to quarterback Charles McCullum hitting wide receiver Joe Morrow for a 17-yard touchdown. MVP quarterback Sean Brackett then led the Pirates on a one-play drive resulting in a 30-yard score to wide out Mardy Gilyard. The teams were neck and neck at 14-14 to end the first quarter
To open the second quarter Johnson scored his second touchdown of the contest from a yard out for the Cobras. The Pirates put together a long drive that burned over six minutes off of the clock, but Brackett was picked off by defensive back Mike Green in the end zone ending the scoring threat. After multiple penalties and a great pass breakup by Pirates defensive back Lawrence Austin in the end zone, the Cobras settled for a 43-yard field goal which kicker Nick Belcher missed wide right. However, an illegal defense penalty allowed to Cobras to start with a fresh set of downs. After a defensive holding call on third and ten at the Pirates 18 yard line, the Cobras once again got a fresh set downs. On the next play McCullum found Zach Ducker for a nine-yard score to increase the Cobra lead 27-14. With a minute left in the half one of the most acrobatic plays of the night saw Hicks hurdle a defender on his way to set up the Pirates in the red zone. The Pirates couldn’t capitalize however from the six yard line. The half ended with Carolina leading 27-14.
The Pirates third quarter began with a huge gain from Hicks for 17 yards, but a personal foul penalty negated the run. On third and 21, Brackett fumbled the snap but was able to scoop it up and dash for a 20 yard gain to the six yard line. On the fourth down attempt, Brackett fumbled the snap once again, handing the ball back to the Cobras. Two plays later Carolina’s McCullum found Fabian Guerra for a 20-yard touchdown. The Pirates got the ball back but quickly turned it back over after Ken Walton II intercepted a Brackett tipped pass at the goal line. On the following play, McCullum found Jordan Jolly for a five-yard score to increase their lead to 41-14. Jolly led all receivers in the contest with nine catches for 109 yards and three TD’s. The Pirates couldn’t do much on their next possession as they turned the ball over on downs. In the blink of an eye, McCullum got the ball back and struck quickly with a 35-yard bomb to Fabian Guerra, marking McCullum’s fifth touchdown pass of the game. For Guerra it was his second touchdown of the night as he finished with six receptions for 84 yards and two scores. To end the quarter Pirates kick returner Gilyard took the kickoff back to the Carolina three-yard line. The Pirates head into the final quarter of the game trailing 48-14.
In the fourth quarter with 6:54 remaining Brackett went deep to Gilyard who made a spectacular catch in the corner of the end zone for their second touchdown connection of the game. Gilyard was the star for the Pirates with his three receptions for 67 yards and two scores. The Pirates find themselves down 48-22. The Pirates defense showed signs of life but on fourth and two at the Carolina 13 Pirates LB Tavarus Dantzler jumped off sides allowing Carolina to gain a set of new downs. Two plays later, McCullum found Jolly streaking down the field for a 28 yard touchdown and the final score of the night.
The Pirates will need to quickly forget about the loss as they travel to Carolina to face the Cobras on Saturday at 7:00.