Carolina quarterback Charles McCullum threw eight touchdown passes, five to Tyron Laughinghouse, as the Cobras scored in the final ten second to defeat the Massachusetts Pirates 72-65 Saturday night in the Greensboro Coliseum. Both teams now have 5 and 2 records but Carolina now holds a tiebreaker over the Pirates by virtue of its two wins over Massachusetts this season.
Carolina’s Craig Peterson missed a 55 yard field goal attempt on the games’ first possession and it was returned 33 yards by Bones Bagaunte to the Cobras 17 yard line. Four plays later Pirates quarterback Sean Brackett handed off to Devonn Brown who started to run left, then cut back right and a block by Brackett led Brown into the end zone to start the scoring. Ali Mourtada’s point after put the Pirates up 7-0.
Peterson missed a 50 yard field goal attempt and later Mourtada was short on a 62 yard try that was returned by Cedric Poole 41 yards to the Pirates 13. Two plays later Cobras QB Charles McCullum found Jordan Jolly with a two yard scoring strike and the first quarter ended tied at seven.
Early in quarter number two, Carolina’s Cedric Poole intercepted Brackett and returned it 42 yards to the Massachusetts six. On second and goal from the nine McCullum found his favorite target, Tyron Laughinghouse with a nine yard pass and the home team was up 14-7. Brackett would answer on the next play with a 30 bomb to Bagaunte, but a missed PAT kept the Pirates down by one.
The Pirates defense then went to work as Pasqual Vacchio intercepted McCullum and they would turn it into points as Mardy Gilyard’s six yard TD reception gave the Pirates a 19-14 advantage. Five plays later John Hardy – Tuliua came up with a pick and Lavon Pearson capped a short five play, 15 yard drive with a three yard scoring reception and Massachusetts held a 25-14 lead with 42 seconds remaining in the half, but the scoring was far from over.
Laughinghouse scored his second TD of the night for the Cobras on a 12 yard reception with 29 seconds to play. Brown would answer with a 19 yard TD catch. With just eight second left before halftime the Cobras would add nine more points as McCullum connected with Phillip Barnett on a 30 yard TD pass and kicker Craig Peterson would add a PAT and a “Duce.” Poole ended the Pirates hopes for more points with an interception and Massachusetts led 32-30 at the break.
The Pirates started quickly in the third quarter as Brackett and Gilyard teamed up on an 11 yard scoring play. Hardy – Tuliua’s second interception led to a Dashawn Johnson two yard TD run Massachusetts led 45-30. Laughinghouse found the end zone for the third time on the night with a 16 yard TD reception to keep it close and after another “Duce” by Peterson, Carolina was down by six.
It looked as if the Pirates then would gain control of the game as Johnson scored his second rushing TD of the night from a yard out and a pick six by Cheatham Norrils saw Massachusetts take a 20 point lead as the third quarter closed.
The Cobras began the final quarter with McCullum and Laughinghouse connecting again, this time from 15 yards and when Peterson added his third “Duce” of the game Carolina trailed 59-44. On the next play from scrimmage the Pirates fumbled the snap and Jermaine Jones recovered in the end zone for a Cobras touchdown leaving them down by four.
The Cobras defense struck again as Poole intercepted Brackett for the third time in the game ending a drive in the red zone. The Pirates Kiante Northington returned the favor with an interception for the Pirates, but three plays later Brackett was picked off by Keith Lewis. This time the Cobras would cash in on the turnover as Barnett pulled in a 21 yard TD and with the PAT and Peterson’s fourth “Duce” of the game, Carolina had a 64-59 lead with 1:30 remaining. That lead lasted just 30 seconds. On first and ten from the five, Brackett unloaded a 45 yard rocket to Brown, this third score of the night, but a failed two point conversion left the Pirates up by one, 65 - 64 with 60 seconds to play.
That was more than enough time for the Cobras to mount their winning drive as not even a fumbled snap and a sack by JD Griggs could slow down Carolina. Three Pirates penalties helped the Cobras and on second and ten from the Massachusetts 23, McCullum hit Laughinghouse, who made a leaping catch to give his team the lead for good. McCullum added a 2-point conversion to make the score 72-65.
Still the Pirates had a final drive and a chance to win as Brackett got his team into the red zone but on the last play Omari Manhertz sacked the Massachusetts quarterback to end the game.
Brackett finished the night 26 of 37 for 316 yards, six touchdowns and 4 interceptions. Devonn Brown had seven receptions for 132 yards and two receiving touchdowns and one rushing score. Mardy Gilyard had ten catches for 60 yards and two touchdowns.
McCullum was 18 of 38 passing for 229 yards, eight touchdowns and five interceptions. Laughinghouse accounted for eight receptions for 97 yards and five scores while Barnett pulled in seven balls for 112 yards and two TD’s.
The Pirates return home next week to face Jacksonville at 7pm on Saturday at the DCU Center in Worcester.
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