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Cobras Fall Apart In Second Half, Lose To Grand Rapids 41-38

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GRAND RAPIDS — The Carolina Cobras managed just two second half touchdowns as theGrand Rapids Rampage held on for a 41-38 win on Fridaynight in front of 7,235 at Van Andel Arena.

Kevin Jackson hauled in a 6-yard touchdown pass with51 seconds left to cut the Rampage lead to 41-38 andgive Cobras hope. After an unsuccessful on-side kick,the Cobras defense held the Rampage on fourth down toget the ball back on their own 8-yard line with 26seconds left in the game.

Rookie Jammie Deese caught back to back passes on theCobras final drive to help set up a 31-yard field goalattempt by Bjorn Nittmo to tie the game, but the kicksailed wide right and over the end zone rebound net astime expired.

Fred McNair connected on 18 of 35 passes for 184 yardsand three touchdowns and added a rushing score in theloss 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 ascore to pace the Rampage. Willie Marshall chipped inwith two receiving touchdowns (6 catches for 117yards) and a rushing score and fullback Chris Ryanrushed for a pair of touchdowns for Grand Rapids.

Deese led the Cobras with six catches for 67 yards anda touchdown. Injuries played a huge part in the gameas the Cobras lost wide receiver/defensive back KottoCotton with a separated shoulder.

The Rampage took the opening kick off and drove44-yards in five plays, capped by a 2-yard run aroundthe left side by Willis Marshall to take an early 7-0lead with 10:59 left in the first, but Nittmo drilleda 33-yard field goal on Carolina's first possession toclose the gap midway through the first quarter.

Dolezel hit Marshall for a 5-yard touchdown pass toput the Rampage on top 14-3 and McNair answered withan 11-yard scoring pass to Cotton to pull the Cobrasto 14-10 at the end of the first.

The Cobras defense forced a long field goal attempt onthe Rampage next possession and took over at their own11-yard line. After back-to-back incompletions,McNair hit Bond on a key third down to keep the drivealive. Then, after a Grand Rapids off side penalty,McNair hit Deese on a screen pass and he broke atackle and scampered down the left sideline for an18-yard touchdown to give Carolina their first lead ofthe game at 17-14 with 9:55 left in the second.

Newly acquired defensive specialist Carlos Brooks madethe one of the biggest defensive plays of the seasonwhen he intercepted Dolezel and darted 49 yards downthe left sideline to put the Cobras ahead 24-14 midwaythrough the second. After another Grand Rapidsturnover on their next possession (Robert Williamsinterception in the end zone), the Cobras had theopportunity to increase their lead, but the offensestalled, forcing a long field goal try by Nittmo.

Grand Rapids took over at their own 11-yard line anddrove 39-yards on six-plays, capped by a 1-yardscoring run by Ryan with nine seconds to go in thehalf to trim the Cobras lead to 24-21 at halftime.

The Cobras took the second half kick off and added totheir lead when McNair scored on a quarterback keeperfrom 1-yard out to give Carolina a 31-21 advantagewith 10:32 to go in the third. The Rampage converteda key third and 10 on their next possession and cutthe Cobras lead to 31-28 after Dolezel found MichaelBaker for a 23-yard scoring strike.

Both teams missed long field goal attempts on theirnext possession, and the Cobras were forced to tryanother long field goal after McNair was sacked onthird and 10 when Carolina got the ball back. GrandRapids took over on their own 19-yard line and tookthe lead when Ryan rumbled in from a yard out to putthe Rampage back on top, 34-31, with 10:48 left. Another Cobras drive fizzled on Carolina's ensuingpossession, resulting in another missed field goal. Grand Rapids took over and added to their lead whenDolezel found Marshall for another score to put theRampage up 41-31 with less than five minutes left.

The Cobras return home to host the New York Dragons inan Eastern Division showdown next Friday, May 18, 7:30p.m. at the Entertainment and Sports Arena.

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