Cobras Stumble on the Road 63-26 in Jacksonville
07/09/2022 9:12 PM -
JACKSONVILLE, FL - A rekindling of the spirited rivalry between Carolina and Jacksonville fizzled quickly Saturday night, as the Cobras fell to the Sharks 63-26 in a game largely devoid of drama. Jacksonville’s offense staked itself to a 34-0 first-half lead while the defense created 5 straight empty Cobras possessions before D.J. Myers finally scored on a 6-yard reception with no time remaining in the first half. The loss drops the Cobras to 8-4 on the season, but still with a firm hold on first place in the NAL. Carolina locked up a playoff spot in last week’s win over Columbus in Greensboro.
New Cobras quarterback Malik Henry couldn’t summon last week’s magic, which was highlighted by 6 touchdown passes. Amidst heavy pressure all night, Henry was picked off twice in the first half by the Sharks’ Kamrin Solomon, while the Cobras’ other three first half possessions ended with one missed field goal and two turnovers on downs. In addition to the rough start, the Cobras were called for three offensive offside penalties, which come at a cost of 10 yards apiece.
Jacksonville (7-5) vaulted in to second place in the NAL with the win, since Albany was off this weekend. To say that the Sharks’ turnaround has been remarkable is an understatement, as Jacksonville lost 4 of its first 5 games this season. Now, the 2-time NAL champions are in the thick of yet another playoff race. The Sharks’ kicking game issues seem to finally be resolved, as Nick Belcher converted 3 Deuces and a 25-yard field goal.
Myers was once again a bright spot for the Cobras, snagging two more touchdown passes to maintain his place among the league leaders in receiving. Kendrick Ings hauled in a gorgeous 35-yard touchdown while Tre Long added a final touchdown as time expired. Henry, the former Jacksonville starter making his second start for Carolina, passed for 144 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions before being replaced by Jerod Evans to start the fourth quarter. Evans finished with 72 passing yards and 2 touchdowns as well as 12 yards rushing.
Down 11-0 midway through the first quarter, the Cobras’ offense got into a rhythm and moved the ball from its own 5-yard line down to the Jacksonville 9. It was textbook Carolina, consisting of 6 plays and taking around 5 minutes off the game clock. However, Solomon got great position for the first of his 2 picks and ended the scoring threat. Five plays later, Sharks quarterback Arvell Nelson found Devin Wilson for a 23-yard touchdown and an 18-0 lead. The next scoring opportunity for Carolina came midway through the second quarter, as the Cobras marched to the Jacksonville 16 before Solomon struck again. That turnover resulted in 3 more points and it seemed, at that point, to put the game out of reach.
The Cobras, however, don’t go do down without a fight which was evident in the two late touchdowns to shrink the scoring margin. Each football season is not without adversity and that’s what Carolina is enduring right now. Whether it’s losing a starting quarterback who is arguably the league MVP, playing a road game in Columbus with multiple starters out due to illness, or losing D.J. Myers and other receivers for multiple games this season- the Cobras always respond.
The next chance to do so will come Saturday night at the Greensboro Coliseum as the Columbus Lions return to the site of last week’s thrashing at the hands of the Cobras. It’s the last regular season home game of the season, and a Cobras win will go a long way towards ensuring the home folks will see the Cobras play at home in the playoffs.