After Further Review: Game 1
Carolina Cobras vs. Albany Empire
Photography by: Albany Times Union
Article By: DJ Wagner, Team Reporter
GREENSBORO, NC - In what could only be described as the best game by a Cobras team since the 2019 playoffs against the Massachusetts Pirates, this was a total team effort, as the Cobras defeated the Empire 59-51 in the opening game of the 2022 Season.
The Ironman Rules are the new twist to the 2022 season, and while there may have been some growing pains for both teams last night, the Cobras did their best to make the most of the situation. You had normal offensive players making plays on defense, and defensive players making plays on offense. Special teams even stood up. Was it a perfect game? No, of course not, but for the first game of the season the Cobras made a statement, going in and knocking off the defending NAL Champions in their own arena.
Let’s start with the Offense.
Last night the offense was good, and yet there is much room for improvement. Jonathan Bane led the offense to 47 points, the defense scored twice, and we will have more on that later. Bane threw for 5 TD passes, and ran for another, he has been credited with throwing three interceptions, but the circumstances for all three were somewhat out of his control. On his first interception it was tipped at the line, the second bounced off the top of the wall in the end zone, and the third in the corner of the end zone bounced off two players before being grabbed. Considering the offensive line was a revolving mix of offensive linemen and defensive linemen, the Cobras didn’t give up a ton of pressure and only allowed one sack on the night. Kendrick Ings pulled in three TDs, and DJ Myers led the team with 104 yards receiving as well as a TD. Tre Long had both a receiving TD as well as an INT for a TD. Zack Brown was the leading rusher with 20 yards rushing. The most impressive part of the Cobras offense last night was with 10:17 left in the fourth quarter and holding a 16-point lead. The Cobras took the ball at their 8-yard line and took almost eight minutes off the clock to leave Albany with very little time to make up the two-score difference. The offense was four for five on two-point conversions.
Next, we look at the Defense.
Micheaux Robinson was a tackling machine last night, with 8 tackles, as well as three pass break ups, but probably the star of the night on the defensive side of the ball was Zack Brown. He had 2 tackles, 1 strip/sack, 2 forced fumbles and recovered one for a TD. Lance Evans and Tre Long both had 5 tackles each, and Kendrick Ings and DJ Myers (you know, the starting WRs), each had three tackles. The defense set the tone for the game holding Albany two a four and out, and then causing a turnover on the second Empire drive. When the Empire needed points in the fourth quarter, the defense forced Albany to use almost five minutes off the clock to get the score within 16, and then almost two minutes to get within eight, leaving only 48 seconds on the clock. The defense also held Albany to one of six on two-point conversions. Other than a flourish of scoring on both sides of the ball in the second quarter the defense played lights out the other three quarters.
Now to special teams,
This was a mixed bag for sure, and probably where the most questions from last night came from. K TC Stevens was 3 for 3 on PATs, and kick coverage did allow Darius Prince to run back a kickoff for a TD, but the questions came from TC Stevens being pulled in the third and fourth quarter for substitution infractions. Head Coach Resignalo had this to say about the situation on Facebook earlier today, “A defensive specialist went out on kickoff and wasn’t supposed to. So that made three specialists on the field, and you can only have two at any time. So, the penalty is ten yards and one of those specialists has to be dead until the start of the next quarter. Now, what I believe is wrong, is that they said since the kicker is who I chose, his designation is burnt and had to be a two-way player. I’m turning that in, because that is not correct. Since he was now a two-way player, he came in to kick off, came out, then came back in for the PAT. Once you come off the bench and come out, you are dead for the quarter”
So again, the Ironman Rules are new to the NAL, and there are going to be some growing pains, that I am sure will get taken care of this week and going forward. All I know, after reviewing the tape, is that this 2022 Cobras team has the potential to be something very special, and as they find their grove, the potential is to only get better. So, Saturday, April 30, the Cobras (1-0) open up at home against Orlando (1-0), who travelled to San Antonio and won 44-36. Single game tickets on sale now at Ticketmaster and Carolinacobras.com and of course you can call 336-455-7232 to get both single game, as well as season tickets NOW!