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Cobras strike Lions to win NAL Championship

Courtesy Carolina Cobras / August 31, 2018

Carolina Cobras’ head coach Billy Back (left of trophy) and defensive back Michael Green (right of trophy), hoist the NAL Championship trophy. Photo courtesy of Joe Daniels/Carolina Peacemaker

Car. Cobras 66

Col. Lions 8

The Carolina Cobras became the 2018 National Arena Champions after defeating the Columbus Lions in a stunning 66-8 victory.

The Cobras made history in Greensboro on Monday night (Aug. 27) by claiming their first Championship victory after their inaugural season. With a stellar performance by Cobras Quarterback Charles McCullum, 2018 NAL Championship Game MVP, the Cobras were able to secure the 66-8 win over the Lions to bring a championship to Greensboro.

Carolina Cobras players Joe Harris (#72) and Jordan Jolly (#4) celebrate Jolly’s fourth touchdown reception. Photo by Joe Daniels/Carolina Peacemaker

McCullum entered the game motivated after not winning league MVP or Offensive Player of the Year despite his phenomenal season. McCullum took the Lions and the league by storm tonight racking up seven passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown. On the other side of the ball the Cobras defense held the Lions to only eight points, the second lowest opponent score for the Cobras in 2018.

Lions’ quarterback Jeremy Johnson played poorly, making inaccurate passes that led to many turnovers, whether it be from loss of downs or interceptions. The Lions’ offensive momentum was non-existent as the offensive line would constantly fall apart, leaving him to scramble for a target. This was Columbus’s fourth-straight championship appearance, winning the first two, yet coming up short of the NAL Championship trophy once again.

The Cobras came out and quickly took control of the game, with Phillip Barnett catching the ball from three yards out for a touchdown on the third play of the game. After the Lions turned the ball over on a failed fourth-down conversion, the Cobras struck again, with McCullum throwing a 35-yard bomb to the previously injured Tyron Laughinghouse. Columbus was closer to scoring on their next drive, as kicker Tyler Rausa attempted a 21-yard field goal, only to be blocked by the Cobras’ defensive line. The failed attempt kept the Lions scoreless and down by 14 at the end of the first quarter.

After gaining some yardage to end the first quarter, the Cobras were able to get close enough for McCullum to turn on the jets. He streaked into the end zone for a 30-yard rushing touchdown.

After another turnover-on-downs by the Lions, the Cobras made their way into the end zone once again, with McCullum tossing a 17-yard pass to Jordan Jolly. Following the score, Craig Peterson tacked on another deuce to his record-setting season, giving the Cobras another two-points. Carolina added on another two-points after a failed field goal attempt from Peterson bounced off of a Columbus player in the end zone, with the ball then falling out of the back of the end zone for a Carolina safety. The Lions, kicking off after the safety, were able to finally put points on the board, with Rausa hitting a deuce, the Lions’ only points in the half.

After exchanging missed field goals, the Cobras, once again, had possession of the ball. Barnett scored yet again, snagging the ball away from Lions’ defender Chris Pickett in the end zone, leaping up behind him to prevent an interception. The half ended after Peterson missed a 54-yard field goal attempt, not able to capitalize off of Mike Green’s interception. Carolina went into the locker room with a comfortable 37-2 lead.

Cobras’ Pasquale Vacchio, almost immediately after the start of the second half, intercepted Lions’ quarterback Jeremy Johnson, after defensive back Toni Pulu put the pressure on Johnson. The interception led to a nine-yard touchdown reception by Jolly. Columbus was able to score their lone touchdown shortly afterwards, with a defensive miscommunication leaving receiver London Crawford wide-open in the end zone for the score. The Cobras finished the Lions off in the remaining time, scoring three more touchdowns, one a fumble-returned for a touchdown from Vacchio, and a deuce from Peterson. The Carolina Cobras made a huge statement Monday, with all sides of the ball making big plays to help secure the Cobras’ 66-8 win.


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Since 1967, the Carolina Peacemaker has served as North Carolina’s leading news weekly with a national reputation. Founded by Dr. John Kilimanjaro, the newspaper is published by Carolina Newspaper, Inc.

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