Cobras lose back and forth Battle to Lions 57-55
The Lions (6-3) and Cobras (7-3) rivalry continued tonight as the Lions took down the Cobras 57-55. The Lions leapt out of the gates at the beginning of the game and took a 20-0 lead soon into the second quarter, capitalizing off of quarterback Charles McCullum’s three first quarter interceptions. The Cobras clawed their way back into the game, with the comeback coming up short in the end, after Cobras wide receiver Tyron Laughinghouse failed to catch the game tying two-point conversion with less than 25 seconds remaining. The Cobras are now 0-2 versus the Lions, losing their games to them by a combined three points.
The first quarter was dominated on all sides of the ball by Columbus. McCullum ended each of the Cobras’ three drives with interceptions, one to Kyle Griswould, and two to Chris Pickett. The Lions were able to cash in all of the the interceptions with Lions quarterback Mason Espinosa throwing two touchdown passes to Jarmon Fortson and a rushing touchdown by Quayvon Hicks on the first play of the second quarter.
With the Lions up 20-0, the Cobras had to go to work. McCullum and Jordan Jolly got the offense going with McCullum completing two passes to Jolly on the drive and McCullum capping it off with a two-yard rushing touchdown. The Carolina defense looked like their usual self after their slow first quarter, sacking Espinosa twice, and Michael Green making a jumping interception in the endzone. Unfortunately for the Cobras, Green was injured on the play and would not return for the rest of the game. Carolina, however, didn’t dwell on the loss for long, with McCullum making multiple completions to Jolly and Laughinghouse, and capping off the drive with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Phillip Barnett. Columbus quickly responded, with Fortson making his third touchdown reception of the night. The Cobra’s offense didn’t skip a beat on their next drive, after a touchdown to Laughinghouse was nullified, McCullum went right back to him to put Carolina within six points of Columbus. Columbus tried scoring a few more points at the end of the half, but kicker Derek Vacha was denied the field goal attempt after the Cobras blocked the kick, keeping the Lions ahead 27-21 at the half.
The half started off appearing it would be lots of scoring, with the Lions’ Hicks scoring a 25-yard rushing TD less than two minutes into the half, and the Cobras scoring quickly after that, with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Jolly. The Lions then chewed up most of the quarter with a long drive that only resulted in three points thanks to Vacha hitting his first field goal of the night. Fabian Guerra scored his first touchdown of the night on the Cobra’s following drive on a stellar 16-yard catch and run, closing the Lions lead to two points, 37-35.
Columbus re-extended their lead soon into the last quarter, with Espinosa keeping the ball and pushing his way into the endzone with the help of his offensive linemen. Carolina’s drive following the Lion’s touchdown was in danger of never happening, after Carolina failed to complete a fourth down conversion. However, due to pass interference, the Cobras were able to continue their drive and finish it off with a 13-yard touchdown grab by Jolly. Espinosa and Tristan Purifoy made short work on the following drive, with a 30-yard catch and run by Purifoy. Carolina marched back down the field and brought the game back to two, after Phillip Barnett made a spectacular one-handed grab in the endzone. Espinosa and company went back down the field and scored once again, after Hicks ran down the goal-line for a three-yard touchdown run. Vacha missed the extra-point following, keeping the game at an eight-point, one score affair. The Cobras, with little time on the clock, were able to push their way down the field and score a touchdown with 24.3 seconds left. Laughinghouse was able to catch the touchdown, but was not able to catch the two-point conversion, keeping the Cobras from tying the game. Columbus then ran out the remaining time with a few plays, despite the Cobras efforts to stop them, giving the Lions the 57-55 road win in Greensboro.