07/31/2021 9:42 PM
ORLANDO - The stage was set with playoffs on the line as the (2-5) Carolina Cobras took on the (4-3) Orlando Predators, after falling to the Predators by only three points at their last meeting in Greensboro. The Cobras coming off their road victory against 2-5 Jacksonville Sharks were ready to take on another Florida team in a must needed road victory in Orlando. Cobras not only needed to win as the NAL playoffs all hung in the balance, Carolina not getting the tie breaker advantage meant Jacksonville and Jersey had to lose tonight and Carolina had to win for a chance to advance to the NAL playoffs. Since the team started in 2018, the Cobras have always made it to the postseason.
The Predators, already having clinched their playoff berth, did not need a victory to keep their position in the playoffs but had the demand for a home game victory as they were set to play in the playoffs on the road. The biggest key for Carolina was winning the quarterback matchup, in which Aaron Aiken sparked the Cobras offense early by finding NAL’s top 2 wide receiver Kendrick Ings in the first four minutes of play. The Cobras struck first in this one with a Aikens to Summer touchdowns pass putting the Cobras up to start the game.
Ings, as he did all season long continued to dominate in this game, returning a kick for a touchdown, scoring a 11 yard touchdown reception all in just the first quarter. The Cobras defense held the Predators to only 14 points as Carolina entered the second quarter up 21-14. Coach Res kept the defense hot, despite a touchdown from new Orlando Predator receiver Joe Hills, the defense kept the Predators under 30 points at the half while the Cobras offense kept the foot on the pedal as Cobras Reggie Gray scored a touchdown before halftime for his Carolina Cobras debut. Orlando’s Patrick O’Brien gave the Predators a last-minute score bringing the score to 29-28 at the half.
The second half is where Carolina found their stride, starting the half with an extra two points after T.C. Stevens put it through the uprights. Aiken and the Cobras’ offense kept their hard work up in the team's first drive that led to fullback Deshawn Johnson crossing the goal line for six. The Cobras’ defense caught the Predators off-guard and took advantage by jumping on a muffled fumble, giving Carolina the ball back. That next drive, Aiken linked up to Ings for another touchdown, this one for 31 yards, giving Carolina the 44-36 lead. On the next Carolina drive, Aiken found receiver Lemark Brown on a 10 yard touchdown reception to put Carolina up by two possessions.
In the fourth, Carolina used time management, controlling the winding clock to their advantage giving the Predators little room to work with. This left the game up to the Cobras defense who sealed Cobras fate with their lock-down defense throughout the fourth period, only allowing Orlando to score one touchdown in the final 22 seconds of play. The Cobras took home the victory 51-43 advancing your Carolina Cobras to the NAL playoffs for the fourth NAL season in a row.
The victory goes well credited as a team win as many played their roles in tonight’s major victory over the #3 Orlando Predators. Quarterback Aaron Aiken finished with 217 passing yards and five touchdowns. Ings sealed his spot for number two in the NAL in receiving touchdowns on the season after snagging two more this game bringing his total to 19 regular season receiving touchdowns. The Cobras seem to be on a roll with back to back road victories and now an upcoming road trip to Albany, NY to face the #1 Albany Empire 7-1 as the Jacksonville Sharks and Jersey Flight both lost their games tonight, advancing the Cobras to the playoffs with this victory. The Carolina Cobras will face the Albany Empire Saturday, July 7 at the Albany Times Union Center. For those that can’t make the playoff trip you can watch the game live on the National Arena League’s YouTube channel.
ABOUT THE CAROLINA COBRAS
The Carolina Cobras are members of the National Arena League (NAL). Founded in 2017, the Carolina Cobras are in their inaugural season in 2018 at the Greensboro Coliseum. Cobra Season Ticket Memberships are on sale now call (336) 445-7232 or visit carcobras.com. Follow the Cobras on Facebook at facebook.com/carcobras, twitter.com/carcobras and instagram.com/carcobras.