06/10/2022 8:20 PM
COLUMBUS, GA— A Friday night road trip to Georgia provided a rough start to the weekend as the Carolina Cobras (6-2) fell to the Columbus Lions 55-28 at the Columbus Center. Penalties and turnovers wreaked havoc on the Cobras’ efforts throughout the night, despite fifth-place Columbus (3-3) starting a brand-new quarterback against the league’s best team.
The Cobras needed to play near-perfect football Friday to have a chance, as the Lions went to halftime with a 35-20 lead and 0 penalties on the scoresheet. Carolina was called for 4 first-half penalties but more costly were two turnovers for touchdowns that set the tone for a less-than-pleasant visit to Georgia.
The final five minutes of the second quarter is time the Cobras will want to forget. Trailing 14-13, the Cobras turned the ball over on downs but Joe Powell made a spectacular play on a throw to the end zone, ending a Lions threat. However, Powell left the end zone and the Cobras’ drive started on their own three-yard line. Shortly after, a short pass to Powell on the sideline was covered well by Columbus and Powell lost the football while stretching for extra yardage. The Lions’ Kevin Fuller scooped up the ball and darted for the end zone, stretching the Columbus lead to 21-13.
Nonplussed, Cobras’ quarterback Jonathan Bane hit Joe Powell on a gorgeous ‘go’ route downfield for a 43-yard gain. A few plays later, Bane pushed across the goal line and the score was just 21-20 with a mere 31 seconds to play in the half. However, Columbus’ Darien Townsend scored a 33-yard touchdown to stretch the lead once more. Surprisingly, the Lions went for two and failed, giving the Cobras a chance to tie or take the lead just before the half.
Then, Townsend struck again.
Bane looked downfield for the big play at the buzzer, but Townsend intercepted in the end zone and returned it 50 yards for a Columbus touchdown. After a successful two-point try, the Lions led 35-20 at the half and awaited the second half kickoff.
From there, what had started as a rockslide became an avalanche. Receivers Deandre Brown and Desmond Reece struck twice in the third quarter as the Lions’ defense managed to keep the Cobras’ scoring machine at bay- something no other team has done to date. The Cobras didn’t score in the second half until there were barely five minutes remaining, a glaring indicator of an uncharacteristic anomaly in what has been a resoundingly successful 2022 campaign.
Bane completed 18 of 25 passes for 2 touchdowns and the 1 interception at the end of the first half. He was also sacked 5 times, thanks to the relentless pressure of the Columbus defense. Powell and James Summers each racked up a receiving touchdown apiece, while Zack Brown and Bane accounted for the rushing scores on the evening.
The Cobras won’t have to wait long to avenge tonight’s loss, as the Lions will visit Greensboro July 2 to kick off the Independence Day holiday. I would expect there to be a plentiful helping of offensive fireworks in the Coliseum, as by then the Cobras will have had time to lick their wounds and get back on track. First off, though, is a visit from second-place Albany next week. Game time is 7:00 p.m. from the Coliseum.