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Penalties and turnovers hurt 'Canes
Two Hurricane defenders make a play for the ball. Despite their attempts, the ball was just out of reach and landed in the hands of the Cobras receiver for a touchdown in the second quarter of Saturday night's game. The Cobras won by four points (26-22). - photo by Photo by Patty Leon/Coastal Courier
A series of costly turnovers and impromptu penalties caused the Hinesville Hurricanes to come up four points short against the Carolina Cobras on Saturday night as they suffered a 26-22 loss in their real first home opener.
The Hurricanes opened the game with a 45-yard kick return bringing the ball to the 50-yard line but just two plays later, the ‘Canes fumbled and the ball was recovered by the Cobras.
The Cobras wasted little time in capitalizing on the ‘Canes’ fumble and the score was 6-0 after missing the two-point conversion. On the next ‘Canes possession the quarterback had the ball stripped out of his hands by a slithering Cobra, running the ball to the five-yard line before being brought down by a ‘Cane defender. But the Cobras quickly crossed the goal line yet missed another two-point conversion.
Faced with a 0-12 game, the Canes offense took the field once more as they returned the kick to the 48-yard line.
Yet another fumble helped the Cobras extend their lead to 18-0 after they recovered the ball and completed four passes - one of which was to the corner of the end zone, just above the reach of two Hurricane defenders and into the hands of a Cobra receiver who fell backwards.
In the second quarter, the Hurricanes were making forward progress when a series of penalties dropped them back. Going for it on fourth down, the ‘Canes were denied a first down when they were spotted short after a pass completion.
The Cobras started to come apart toward the end of the second quarter starting with a penalty for offensive pass interference when they tried to run a screen play but threw the ball to a lineman. That placed them in a second and twenty situation. Two incomplete passes forced the Cobras to punt.
Another kick return by the Canes brought the ball inside the Cobras 20-yard line. The Canes used that energy and a series of no huddle plays to push through and score with just 25 seconds before halftime making it 18-6.
A special halftime ceremony dedication to the late Mary Jo Sharp, mother of Margrette, Melissa and Jamie Sharp III and wife of Hurricane coach James Sharp, kept the players focused on the reason they were there that evening. Melissa Sharp serenaded the audience and the fans and family members bowed their heads as prayers, loving words and songs were spoken on her behalf.
The dedication sparked a fire deep inside the players’ heart. In their next two possessions in the third quarter the ‘Canes moved the ball like a storm on course for landfall and suddenly the ‘Canes only trailed by 4 (18-14).  
The Cobras seemed a bit startled by the determination of the Canes. Their normally dead-on quarterback tossed the ball right into the hands of a wide-open ‘Canes defender. With their momentum still in high gear, the ‘Canes pummeled their way into the end zone to go ahead 20-18. The ‘Canes converted another 2-point conversion and were up 22-18.
The ‘Canes then pinned the Cobras deep in their own territory. But the Cobras opened their running game with a 22-yard run. As the fourth quarter started the ‘Canes found themselves being penalized for significant yardage giving the Cobras a short field.
The teams battled back and with the clock running down the Cobras scored again taking a 24-22 lead. The Cobras converted the PAT and won the game 26-22.
“It’s the same thing we do all the time,” coach Michael “Ice” Jones said to his players on the sidelines. “We kill ourselves with penalties.”
“You’re right,” Sharp said, somewhat disappointed by the loss, but proud of his team’s fighting spirit. “But, it’s something we can fix.”
The Hurricanes hit the practice field as they prepare for their next opponent, the South Georgia Stars in Americus. Kick-off is set for 7 p.m. Saturday night.

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