Cobras Clinch Playoffs After Victory Over Columbus
Cobras Tame Lions 61-36
GREENSBORO— D.J. Myers scored 5 touchdowns and kicker T.C. Stevens kicked 4 deuces as the Cobras (8-3) downed the Columbus Lions 61-36 and officially clinched a spot in the NAL playoffs. Facing adversity in a pivotal game without starting quarterback Jonathan Bane as well as receiver Lance Evans active, new Cobra quarterback Malik Henry tossed 6 touchdowns and made a host of good decisions to keep the chains moving on offense.
Columbus (4-5) scored first on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Daniel Smith to Darien Townsend, but that score was answered with a 7-play, 40-yard drive that ended in 12-yard touchdown pass to Kendrick Ings. After Townsend scored again to tie the game at 13, Micah Robinson scored on a 1-yard plunge to quickly give the Cobras the lead once more with 4:17 remaining in the first half.
Then, Myers started a Carolina takeover.
On fourth-and-six from the Lions’ 24, Myers stepped in front of an errant Smith pass and returned it for 6. On the ensuing kickoff, Stevens made the first of his personal record-tying 4 deuces to make the score 29-13- an important margin that placed Columbus in the position of playing catch-up the rest of the evening. In total, the Cobras picked off Columbus 4 times: twice by Myers and one each to James Summers and Joe Powell.
Henry finished 15-for-25 for 226 yards and 6 total touchdowns to three different Cobras (Myers, Ings, Adam Smith). To add to Columbus’ woes, the Carolina rushing attack gained 60 yards between the trio of Zack Brown, Robinson and Henry. Robinson gained 17 of his 20 yards on one drive, dragging Lions down the field on a 45-yard scoring drive.
Townsend scored 4 touchdowns of his own, with 3 coming in the first half alone. However, the Cobras went to a man look on defense in the second half, which the Lions tried to counter by throwing short sideline routes to Columbus’ playmaker. In doing so, they ignored Jarmon Fortson- a Florida State product and one of the most athletic receivers in the league.
Smith finished 22-for-33 and 4 touchdowns, but 3 interceptions didn’t help his cause. He had 3 interceptions last week at Albany, as well, but didn’t get much help from an offensive line that began to collapse in the second half. Brown was in the backfield for most of the half and accounted for a huge sack while the Lions were still in striking distance.
With a playoff spot clinched, the Cobras now look ahead to a trip to rival Jacksonville. The Sharks moved to 6-5 and is firmly in third place with a Friday night win over Orlando. With Albany winners in San Antonio, the Empire now need to worry more about the Sharks than the Cobras, who have the tiebreaker. With another 1-0 week completed, on Military and First Responders Night no less, Coach Res and the rest of the Cobras can enjoy the long holiday weekend before looking toward the final three weeks of the season.