Cobras Defeat Fury 79-52
Posted May 1, 2001 8:05 a.m. EDT
RALEIGH — Carl Bond tied an Arena Football League record with a 58-yard kickoff return in the first half, and the Carolina Cobras welcomed the expansion Detroit Fury to league with a 79-52 victory in front of 10,053 at the Entertainment and Sports Arena.
Bond added a 56-yard missed field goal return for a touchdown -- the first in franchise history -- and totaled a team-record 261 yards on 8 returns (2 missed field goal returns for 98 yards, 6 kickoff returns for 163). Touchdown specialist Marrio Grier scored three times (two rushing, one receiving), and Fred McNair completed 12 of 17 passes for 118 yards and a touchdown.
Detroit (0-1) offensive specialist Robert Gordon caught a game-high 12 passes for 173 yards and six scores. Quarterback Steve Semptimphelter tossed eight touchdowns on 26 of 41 passing for 346 yards. He was picked off three times, each of which were returned for scores.
The Cobras (2-0) scored 29 straight points to close the first half without the offense stepping on the field. Bond's two scores framed two interception returns for touchdowns. The 79 points were the most in the franchise's short history, eclipsing the 77 points scored in a victory over New Jersey last season. The victory marked the first back-to-back wins in Carolina's history.
The game started as a seesaw battle. The Fury wasted no time scoring the first touchdown in the franchise's history, as Semptimphelter launched a 41-yard strike to Chuck Levy on the second play of the game. The PAT failed due a low snap.
The Cobras' offense sputtered inside the Fury 10-yard line, but newly acquired kicker Bjorn Nittmo booted a 21-yard field goal to put the Cobras on the scoreboard. After a defensive stop, Grier powered his way into the end 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 toss from Semptimphelter to ease Detroit back in the lead, 13-10 with 11:00 remaining in the first half, before Grier added a touchdown reception on a 6-yard pass from McNair. But Detroit regained the lead with the help of a Cobras defensive breakdown when Semptimphelter found Levy alone on the left sideline, and the wide receiver spun his way into the end zone to give Detroit its final lead at 17-13 with 7:30 left in the half.
Then the Cobras special teams and defense went on the scoring spree. Bond's record-setting return ignited the crowd and the team, and Nittmo somersaulted into the end zone for the successful two-point attempt. The defense got into the scoring act with the interception returns, first by rookie lineman Chris Mintz and then by hard-hitting defensive specialist Otis Mounds. Bond closed the half with the long missed field goal return. When the dust settled, the Cobras led 46-20 at the break.
Carolina's opened the second half with an efficient 6-play, 45-yard drive capped by a 3-yard touchdown run by Jason Bratton. After the kickoff, Detroit snapped the Carolina scoring streak at 36, when Gordon scored the first of five-second half touchdowns, a 5-yarder. The special teams muffed another snap, and the Cobras led 53-26. Grier answered with his third touchdown on the night, a 1-yard power run, but Nittmo missed the PAT.
Gordon added two more touchdowns (4 and 18 yards) spanning the third and fourth quarters. Lance Funderburk, in relief of McNair, connected with David McLeod for a 38-yard touchdown, increasing the Cobras' advantage to 66-40 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 two scores, a 27-yard pass from Funderburk and a 24-yard interception return. Gordon closed out the scoring with a 7-yard catch in the end zone with 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 other expansion team, the Chicago Rush, on Saturday, April 28, at 7:30 p.m. at Allstate Arena. The game will be televised locally on UPN Channel 28.