Cobras Edged in Title Game
In a game that came down to the last seven seconds and came just four yards away from a Cobra victory and a chance to repeat, the Jacksonville Sharks beat the Carolina Cobras tonight 52-48 in the 2019 NAL Championship to become the 2019 NAL Champions. In a game that came down to errors and penalties, the Cobras were on the wrong end of the stick. The Sharks scored four Defensive/Special Team touchdowns tonight on a night their offense could only score three.
Now to the game:
Jacksonville won the opening toss and deferred, so Carolina got the ball first. The Cobras did what they normally do and drove down the field, and it was Charles McCullum with the four-yard TD pass to Jordan Jolly, the PAT was good, and it was 7-0 Cobras. The Cobras defense stood tall and turned the Sharks over on downs around midfield. The Cobras were driven back by penalties and were looking at third and 25 from their own 6, McCullum connected with Jolly for 36-yards and one play later it was McCullum to Von Pearson seven yards for the TD, the PAT was good, and it was 14-0 Cobras. The Sharks were able to answer on the next drive, with Fafaul connecting with Devin Wilson from 14 yards and with the PAT it was 14-7 Cobras. That is how the first quarter ended.
At the start of the second quarter for the Cobras the penalties were early and often, plus Jonathan Taylor had the first sack of the game for the Sharks leading to another third and 28 situation. Keith Bowers had Jacksonville's second sack and it brought out Brandon Rutherford for a FG. It was blocked and returned seven yards by Chris Gilchrist a TD, Behr made the PAT and it was 14-14. Brandon Behr came back with a Deuce and it was 16-14 Sharks. On the next drive it was Damien Jacobs with the strip sack of McCullum, which Gilchrist picked up and ran in for the TD, his second return for a TD of the night, the PAT was good, and it was 23-14 Sharks. The Cobras struck back, this time it was 20 yards to Von Pearson for his second TD of the night, the PAT was good, and it was 23-21 Sharks. The Sharks drove but Fafaul was picked off by Cedric Poole who returned it the length of the field, he fumbled at the goal line and it was recovered by Pasquale Vacchio at the Sharks two-yard line. After a penalty it was Charles McCullum keeping it and rushing it seven yards for the TD, the PAT was good, and it was 28-23 Cobras with 30 seconds left in the half. The Cobras defense stood tall and caused the Sharks to run out the clock, it was 28-23 Cobras at the half.
Brandon Rutherford hit the Deuce on the opening kickoff of the second half to make it 30-23 Cobras.The Sharks changed QBs bringing in Jonathan Bane, his first pass was tipped by Pasquale Vacchio and intercepted by Cedric Poole for his second INT of the night. One play later it was 11 yards from McCullum to Von Pearson for his third TD of the night, the PAT was wide right, and it was 36-23 Cobras. The Sharks answered back driving 30 yards and finishing with a five-yard run by FB Alstevis Squirewell. The PAT was good, and it was 36-30 Cobras. The Sharks attempted an on-side kick which was recovered by James Summers for the Cobras. First play McCullum escaped a sack and connected with Jolly for a 10-yard TD strike, his second of the night, the PAT again missed, and it was 42-30 Cobras. Bane threw his second interception to Kenny Veal, but the Cobras were not able to capitalize because, on a route that Von Pearson fell down on, Seth Ellis was there with the interception which he returned 25 yards to the Carolina 15-yard line. The Cobras defense said no thank you and stopped the Sharks on four plays to get the ball back at the Carolina 9. At the end of the third quarter it was Cobras 42, Sharks 30.
The Cobras could not move the ball and Charles McCullum went out for a couple plays and the Cobras turned it over on downs. The Sharks brought Fafaul back into the game at QB and he connected with Durron Neal from 6 yards out for the TD, the PAT was good, and it was 42-37 Cobras. The Cobras drove the length of the field on the next drive. On third and goal from the 17-yard line, McCullum connected again to Jolly, his third TD of the night, the PAT was blocked by Nick Woodman, and it was 48-37 Cobras. Just 5:21 to go in the game. The Sharks drove the field, but a tipped pass from Michael Green to Kenny Veal, led to his second interception of the night, this time in the endzone. Carolina got the ball back with 2:52 to go. Charles McCullum threw an interception, this time to Aaron Bellazin, who returned it 7 yards for the TD, the Sharks went for two and Fafaul was successful with the pass to Squirewell, and it was 48-45 Cobras, one minute to go. The Sharks went for the on-side kick and were successful, with Aaron Bellazin recovering. The Sharks drove down to the Carolina 5-yard line with 11 seconds to go. Fafaul connected with Durron Neal for the TD, the PAT was good, and it was 52-48 Sharks with seven seconds to go. The Cobras tried to drive the final 30 yards but came up four yards short as Priester was tackled by Robert Brown. Your final score from Jacksonville and the 2019 NAL Championship game, was 52-48 Sharks. The Jacksonville Sharks are the 2019 NAL Champions and finish 15-1. The Carolina Cobras finish the season 10-6.
What an incredible game between the two top teams in the league. The Cobras gave up 4 defensive/special team TDs. So it all came down to errors, as would be expected in a matchup like this. The Cobras defense held the Sharks offense to just 22 points. But every Cobra turnover led to instant points. A painful loss for Cobra Nation, but you can rest assured, they will be back.
Note: In the seven games in the history of this matchup the team with the most sacks has now gone 7-0 as the Sharks defense had five sacks to zero for the Cobras.
Penalties were also a big factor with Carolina getting charged with 14 penalties to only two for the Sharks.
Charles McCullum went 23-33-2 for 226 yards and 6 TD
League MVP Jordan Jolly had 7 receptions for 94 yards and 3 TDs
Von Pearson had 8 catches for 71 yards and 3 TDs
Cedric Poole had 7.5 tackles and 2 INTs
Kenny Veal had 6.5 tackles and 2 INTs
Congratulations to the 2019 NAL Champion Jacksonville Sharks. We will see you next year.
Article by: DJ Wagner
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National Arena League Stories from August 18, 2019
- Cobras Edged in Title Game - Carolina Cobras
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