LOS ANGELES — The Carolina Cobras earned their first victory in franchise history as they defeated the Los Angeles Avengers 58-50 on Thursday night in a seesaw battle at the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles.
Carolina fullback Marrio Grier took a handoff and rumbled 28-yards for a touchdown on a draw play to put the Cobras ahead 52-44 with 7:18 left. The Cobras defense stopped Los Angeles with less than two minutes remaining to give Carolina possession but kicker Remy Hamilton missed a 48-yard field goal, giving the Avengers one last chance to tie the score. Scott Semptimphelter connected with Chris Jackson to pull Los Angeles to 52-50 with 24 seconds left but Dexter Dawson intercepted the two-point try to secure the win. The Cobras recovered the ensuing on-side kick and quarterback Jim Arellanes scored on a 10-yard quarterback keeper to put Carolina (1-1) up for good.
"We just needed a win," Cobras coach Doug Kay said. "The kids just worked hard and played hard. We went through adversity and came out and won the football game in the end."
Arellanes finished the game 18 of 34 for 231 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed three times for nine yards and a score. Avengers (0-2) slinger Scott Semptimphelter completed 25 of 39 passes for 331 yards and six scores. Jackson hauled in six passes for 109 yards and a TD to lead Los Angeles.
Grier rushed six times for 44 yards and a score and Dawson had six receptions for 62 yards and a touchdown to lead Carolina.
The Avengers took the opening kickoff and drove 30 yards on six plays to take an early 3-0 lead on a 23-yard field goal by Kyle Pooler. Carolina stalled on their first possession of the game as the Cobras had a touchdown called back because of a penalty and then botched the snap on a field goal try by Hamilton.
Los Angeles took over in Carolina territory but Cobras' lineman Brad Keeney hit fullback Danjuan Magee causing a fumble that he recovered to give Carolina possession. The Cobras took advantage of the Avengers turnover with a 26-yard touchdown pass from Arellanes to Jackson to take a 7-3 lead with 6:13 left in the first quarter, but Los Angeles answered with a 7-yard scoring run by Magee to take a 9-7 lead.
After a penalty on the kickoff put the Cobras back in the shadow of their own end zone, Carolina put together a 7-play, 47-yard drive, capped by a Dawson 5-yard scoring reception to give the Cobras a 14-9 advantage early in the second. Carolina took advantage of another Los Angeles turnover with a 17-yard touchdown on a screen pass to Brad Keeney to go up 21-9 with 13:30 left in the half. The Avengers answered with a 33-yard screen pass of their own to lineman Victor Hall to close the margin to 21-17, but Remy Hamilton drilled a 40-yard field goal to put the Cobras back on top 24-17 with 5:15 left in the second.
The Avengers tied the score 24-24 on a 12-yard touchdown reception by Frazier with 2:59 left but fullback Bo Kelly rumbled in from a yard out to put Carolina ahead 31-24 with 28 seconds left. Los Angeles struck back just before the end of the half with a 24-yard touchdown grab by Corey Johnson to tie the score 31-31 heading into the break.
Carolina opened the second half with a 6-play, 30-yard scoring drive capped by an Arellanes to Cornelius White 17-yard touchdown strike to retake the lead, 38-31. The Cobras added to their lead after Dawson drilled Aaron Frazier and caused another Los Angeles turnover, setting up a 5-yard touchdown run to put Carolina up by 14 with 9:04 left in the third.
Los Angeles answered with a Semtptimphelter to Johnson 6-yard strike to close to 45-37 and added an 11-yard TD pass to Anthony Rice to pull to 45-44 with 9:21 remaining. The Cobras grabbed the lead, 52-44, after a 28-yard touchdown run by Grier.
The Cobras return home next Thursday, April 27, 8 p.m., to host the Orlando Predators at the ESA. The game versus Orlando will be televised nationally on The Nashville Network (TNN) as part of the Arena Football League's Game-of-the-Week.
From wire reports