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Cobras Defeat Fury 79-52

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RALEIGH — Carl Bond tied an Arena Football League record with a 58-yard kickoffreturn in the first half, and the Carolina Cobras welcomed the expansionDetroit Fury to league with a 79-52 victory in front of 10,053 at theEntertainment and Sports Arena.

Bond added a 56-yard missed field goal return for a touchdown -- the firstinfranchise history -- and totaled a team-record 261 yards on 8 returns (2missed field goal returns for 98 yards, 6 kickoff returns for163). Touchdown specialist Marrio Grier scored three times (two rushing,one receiving), and Fred McNair completed 12 of 17 passes for 118 yardsand a touchdown.

Detroit (0-1) offensive specialist Robert Gordon caught a game-high 12passes for 173 yards and six scores. Quarterback Steve Semptimpheltertossed eight touchdowns on 26 of 41 passing for 346 yards. He was pickedoff three times, each of which were returned for scores.

The Cobras (2-0) scored 29 straight points to close the first half withoutthe offense stepping on the field. Bond's two scores framed twointerception returns for touchdowns. The 79 points were the most in thefranchise's short history, eclipsing the 77 points scored in a victoryover New Jersey last season. The victory marked the first back-to-backwins in Carolina's history.

The game started as a seesaw battle. The Fury wasted no time scoring thefirst touchdown in the franchise's history, as Semptimphelter launched a41-yard strike to Chuck Levy on the second play of the game. The PATfailed due a low snap.

The Cobras' offense sputtered inside the Fury 10-yard line, but newlyacquired kicker Bjorn Nittmo booted a 21-yard field goal to put the Cobrason the scoreboard. After a defensive stop, Grier powered his way into theend zone from 1-yard out to vault the Cobras into the lead, 10-6.

Gordon tip-toed along the back of the end zone and caught a 19-yard tossfrom Semptimphelter to ease Detroit back in the lead, 13-10 with 11:00remaining in the first half, before Grier added a touchdown reception on a6-yard pass from McNair. But Detroit regained the lead with the help of aCobras defensive breakdown when Semptimphelter found Levy alone on theleft sideline, and the wide receiver spun his way into the end zone togive Detroit its final lead at 17-13 with 7:30 left in the half.

Then the Cobras special teams and defense went on the scoringspree. Bond's record-setting return ignited the crowd and the team, andNittmo somersaulted into the end zone for the successful two-pointattempt. The defense got into the scoring act with the interceptionreturns, first by rookie lineman Chris Mintz and then by hard-hittingdefensive specialist Otis Mounds. Bond closed the half with the longmissed field goal return. When the dust settled, the Cobras led 46-20 atthe break.

Carolina's opened the second half with an efficient 6-play, 45-yard drivecapped by a 3-yard touchdown run by Jason Bratton. After the kickoff,Detroit snapped the Carolina scoring streak at 36, when Gordon scored thefirst of five-second half touchdowns, a 5-yarder. The special teamsmuffed another snap, and the Cobras led 53-26. Grier answered with histhird touchdown on the night, a 1-yard power run, but Nittmo missed thePAT.

Gordon added two more touchdowns (4 and 18 yards) spanning the third andfourth quarters. Lance Funderburk, in relief of McNair, connected withDavid McLeod for a 38-yard touchdown, increasing the Cobras' advantage to66-40 with 8:25 remaining.

A little more than a minute later, Gordon found the end zone again,scoring on a 32-yard catch and run. Kotto Cotton responded with twoscores, a 27-yard pass from Funderburk and a 24-yard interceptionreturn. Gordon closed out the scoring with a 7-yard catch in the end zonewith 32 seconds on the clock.

The two teams combined for 40 points in the final quarter.

Carolina hits the road to battle the Arena Football League's otherexpansion team, the Chicago Rush, on Saturday, April 28, at 7:30 p.m. atAllstate Arena. The game will be televised locally on UPN Channel 28.


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