TACOMA– May 5, 2012 – No referees, no problem.
After a few awkward minutes—assuaged by the benevolent, ‘can do’ attitude of a few team officials—the Tacoma Cobras and Pierce County Bengals finally commenced play Saturday, after a nearly 30 minute delay.
Kenny Jackson got the starting nod at quarterback, moving the ball efficiently if not spectacularly down the field. The highlights of the first drive were off the field, actually.
“We’d like to thank the Pierce County Bengals for coming out tonight,” said Cobras owner Theo Hall, doing double duty as the PA announcer.
“And we’d like to thank you for the referees!” said the owner of the Bengals from his sideline perch. The acerbic dialogue didn’t have a chance to escalate, as Nathan “Big Tank” Proctor drew the attention back on to the field, wrapping up the drive with a nine yard run to put the Cobras on the board, 7-0.
Pierce Countykept their next drive alive, albeit, on Tacoma penalties. There was aggression on both sides of the ball, as personal foul flags began to rain down at the 6:16 mark in the first quarter. Like last week’s opponent, the Portland Inner City Shine, the Bengals came out aggressive. The difference this week, however, was that the Cobras matched their intensity.
No matter, as Kollen Hancock returned a punt 55 yards for a touchdown after the Bengals drive stalled. It was the first punt return for a touchdown all season for the Cobras (4-0).
The Bengals had their opportunities to keep the game close, but had to burn two of their three timeouts in the first quarter, thanks to miscommunication in their offensive sets and—as is the dubious requisite at Franklin Pierce Stadium—no play clock.
Dave McEachern’s Tacoma squad is an opportunistic one, strucking on the next possession with Jackson tossing a 37 yard TD pass to Hancock.
Pierce county, coached by ex-Buffalo Bill Ron Baines, stuck to their game plan and avoided panic. While good in theory, it didn’t stop Tacoma cornerback Rico Givans from intercepting a Bengals pass, yet again giving the Cobras the ball.
The onslaught continued, as QB Jackson did his best Emmitt Smith impersonation, scrambling nine yards to paydirt, making the score 28-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Pierce County had the speed to keep up with the Cobras, but lacked the size in the trenches, as Big Tank ran for his second TD of the game to open the second quarter. Theo Hall, whose PDFL abides by NFL rules, broke from form and enacted the ‘mercy rule,’ which keeps the clock moving once the score reaches 35-0.
Wide receiver Mike Waller, apparently wanting to make up for the fact that the Cobras’ special teams had yet to find the end zone prior to this game, returned another punt to the house making it 42-0. The mood in the stadium was light, almost casual, at this point. Tacoma was all smiles; even the usually stern McEachern joked with players just prior to halftime. When your team finally has their fundamentals dialed in, you can relax a bit.
“We were hungry,” said McEachern after the game. “The togetherness was up, it was about the team.”
Technically, with over 30 minutes of football to play, the door was open for the Bengals to make a run, but it wasn’t meant to be. Brandon Stout returned yet another punt for a touchdown.
Things were no different in the second half, as Stout returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown. On the ensuing possession, linebacker Josh Tuani notched the Cobras’ first ‘pick 6’ of the season, returning an interception for a touchdown.
Even though the aforementioned ‘mercy rule’ was in effect; the Cobras were still able to score in bunches, thus negating the principle behind the constantly moving clock. Within seconds, Ammar Othman,Tacoma’s backup running back, rushed for his first TD of the year.
67-0, and counting, but the slaughter wasn’t over. The Bengals quarterback threw a gift-wrapped pass to birthday boy Darrion Jones, which he returned for a touchdown to make it 74-0, as the game mercifully ended for the Bengals.
“Today was a good day,” said Jones, adding that he wants to prove that it wasn’t a fluke or birthday luck. “I want to do this week-in, week-out.”
Game Notes: Darion Jones celebrated his 25th birthday in style, registering four QB pressures and a sack in addition to his TD…Frank Duran, who’s played well as of late, never saw action and was a healthy scratch…The Cobras have outscored their competition 117-19 this season…11 different players have reached the end zone for Tacoma this season.