Revenge will be on the minds of the first place Massachusetts Pirates as they return to the Greensboro Coliseum in North Carolina, Saturday at 7 pm to face the Cobras. The Cobras handed the Pirates their only loss of the season back on April 21, 55 to 47.
The stats and recent performances by both teams suggest fans will see a game that should go down to the wire.
Since that meeting Carolina has improved on both sides of the ball establishing the National Arena Leagues’ best offense scoring 53.8 points per game, while the Pirates are close behind at 53.5. The Cobras defense also ranks first allowing 34.8 points per game while Massachusetts gives up 39.8.
Last weekend both teams were involved in one point ballgames that were decided in the final seconds. The Pirates used rushing touchdowns by Deshawn Johnson, Sean Brackett and a pair of TD receptions from Lavon Pearson to build 36-26 lead over Maine with 1:40 to play. The Mammoths tied the game at the end of regulation and took a 43-36 lead on the first possession of overtime. Brackett scored his second rushing TD of the game and then dove over the goal line for a two point conversion to enable the Pirates to escape with a 44-43 victory.
The Cobras were not a fortunate. Carolina had a 13 point lead over Columbus with less than a minute to play but could not hold on, suffering its second loss of the season, 55-54.
The Cobras trailed 14-0 before quarterback Charles McCullum engineered a comeback with two touchdown passes to Jordan Jolly, a field goal by Craig Peterson and a missed field goal return by Cedric Poole to take a 23-20 halftime lead. Two second half TD receptions by Phillip Barnett, a rushing score by Ricky Dowdy, and Jolly’s third touchdown grab of the night helped to give Carolina a 54-41 lead before the Lions 14-run in the final seconds.
The major difference in this match up compared to the week three meeting is that Pirates quarterback Sean Brackett will be back under center. Brackett missed that game while attending a mini-camp with the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League. Since his return the Pirates have gone 3-0.
The Pirates defense which caused four turnovers last week against Maine will look to slow down McCullum who had the upper hand in the first meeting. McCullum completed 25 of 34 passes for 273 yards and eight touchdowns with just one interception as the Cobras held on for an eight point victory. Fabian Guerra had seven receptions for 106 yards and three scores for the Cobras while Lavon Pearson led the Pirates with eight receptions for 103 yards and two touchdowns.
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