The Sharks entered last night’s game against the NAL defending champion Carolina Cobras looking to avenge their loss to the team in last year’s playoffs.
And while it may not have made up for the missed championship opportunity, the Sharks delivered, out-battling the Cobras to win 35-24 and handing the champs their first loss of the 2019 season.
The evening began with a bit of pageantry, as the Cobras waltzed into the arena fashionably late with DB Ken Walton holding up a sign that read, “The champs are here!”
The game quickly took on a strong defensive edge. The Sharks allowed an opening-drive touchdown by the Cobras, despite an end-zone pass breakup by DB Seth Ellis and a fumble by Cobras QB Charles McCullum. But on the following drive, LB/WR Cody Saul picked off McCullum and returned the ball 21 yards to put the Sharks in prime field position.
It was a great first half for Ellis, who had two key pass breakups as well as a second-quarter interception that led to a quick Sharks touchdown.
But as great as the Sharks’ defense was last night, the offensive looked sluggish at times. Some credit belongs to the strong defensive effort from the Cobras, but many of the Sharks’ offensive errors were unforced.
The offense stalled out multiple times in the red zone, committed multiple false-start penalties, and turned the ball over on downs several times – including once on their own 2-yard line, setting up an easy run-in TD for the Cobras. Brandon Behr missed multiple field goals, including a short kick set up by Saul’s early interception.
But in the second half, the offense picked up the pace while the defense held strong. QB Jonathan Bane finished with 232 passing yards and continued his great rapport with WR Devin Wilson, connecting with him seven times for 102 yards and three touchdowns.
The defense, meanwhile, picked McCollum off three times, with Markus Smith also adding an interception. They also recorded multiple sacks and held the Cobras to a new franchise-low of 24 points.
The Sharks advance to 3-1 and are now on a three-game winning streak. They’ll take on the Orlando Predators (1-3) next Saturday night at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena.
Check out the rest of our photos from last night’s action below.