Cobras Fall Apart In Second Half, Lose To Grand Rapids 41-38
Posted May 14, 2001 7:48 a.m. EDT
GRAND RAPIDS — The Carolina Cobras managed just two second half touchdowns as the Grand Rapids Rampage held on for a 41-38 win on Friday night in front of 7,235 at Van Andel Arena.
Kevin Jackson hauled in a 6-yard touchdown pass with 51 seconds left to cut the Rampage lead to 41-38 and give Cobras hope. After an unsuccessful on-side kick, the Cobras defense held the Rampage on fourth down to get the ball back on their own 8-yard line with 26 seconds left in the game.
Rookie Jammie Deese caught back to back passes on the Cobras final drive to help set up a 31-yard field goal attempt by Bjorn Nittmo to tie the game, but the kick sailed wide right and over the end zone rebound net as time expired.
Fred McNair connected on 18 of 35 passes for 184 yards and three touchdowns and added a rushing score in the loss for Carolina (3-2). Dolezel passed for 297 yards (23 of 40 attempts) and three scores for Grand Rapids (4-0).
Michael Baker grabbed nine passes for 109 yards and a score to pace the Rampage. Willie Marshall chipped in with two receiving touchdowns (6 catches for 117 yards) and a rushing score and fullback Chris Ryan rushed for a pair of touchdowns for Grand Rapids.
Deese led the Cobras with six catches for 67 yards and a touchdown. Injuries played a huge part in the game as the Cobras lost wide receiver/defensive back Kotto Cotton with a separated shoulder.
The Rampage took the opening kick off and drove 44-yards in five plays, capped by a 2-yard run around the left side by Willis Marshall to take an early 7-0 lead with 10:59 left in the first, but Nittmo drilled a 33-yard field goal on Carolina's first possession to close the gap midway through the first quarter.
Dolezel hit Marshall for a 5-yard touchdown pass to put the Rampage on top 14-3 and McNair answered with an 11-yard scoring pass to Cotton to pull the Cobras to 14-10 at the end of the first.
The Cobras defense forced a long field goal attempt on the Rampage next possession and took over at their own 11-yard line. After back-to-back incompletions, McNair hit Bond on a key third down to keep the drive alive. Then, after a Grand Rapids off side penalty, McNair hit Deese on a screen pass and he broke a tackle and scampered down the left sideline for an 18-yard touchdown to give Carolina their first lead of the game at 17-14 with 9:55 left in the second.
Newly acquired defensive specialist Carlos Brooks made the one of the biggest defensive plays of the season when he intercepted Dolezel and darted 49 yards down the left sideline to put the Cobras ahead 24-14 midway through the second. After another Grand Rapids turnover on their next possession (Robert Williams interception in the end zone), the Cobras had the opportunity to increase their lead, but the offense stalled, forcing a long field goal try by Nittmo.
Grand Rapids took over at their own 11-yard line and drove 39-yards on six-plays, capped by a 1-yard scoring run by Ryan with nine seconds to go in the half to trim the Cobras lead to 24-21 at halftime.
The Cobras took the second half kick off and added to their lead when McNair scored on a quarterback keeper from 1-yard out to give Carolina a 31-21 advantage with 10:32 to go in the third. The Rampage converted a key third and 10 on their next possession and cut the Cobras lead to 31-28 after Dolezel found Michael Baker for a 23-yard scoring strike.
Both teams missed long field goal attempts on their next possession, and the Cobras were forced to try another long field goal after McNair was sacked on third and 10 when Carolina got the ball back. Grand Rapids took over on their own 19-yard line and took the lead when Ryan rumbled in from a yard out to put the Rampage back on top, 34-31, with 10:48 left. Another Cobras drive fizzled on Carolina's ensuing possession, resulting in another missed field goal. Grand Rapids took over and added to their lead when Dolezel found Marshall for another score to put the Rampage up 41-31 with less than five minutes left.
The Cobras return home to host the New York Dragons in an Eastern Division showdown next Friday, May 18, 7:30 p.m. at the Entertainment and Sports Arena.