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Stevens Shakes Cobwebs, Leads Cobras’ 27-20 Win

Times Staff Writer

Despite suffering a mild concussion and missing more than a quarter of play, Matt Stevens led the Cobras to a 27-20 victory over the New England Steamrollers Thursday night at the Sports Arena before a crowd of 5,278--the smallest in the two seasons of the Arena Football League.

But those in attendance (including Clipper-to-be Danny Manning, who received a loud ovation before the game) witnessed an arena football defensive battle.

In winning their second consecutive game, the Cobras (2-3) shut down the New England offense.

However, with Stevens out for part of the game, the Cobras’ offense couldn’t move the ball either. “I came to the sidelines, I didn’t know anything,” Stevens said. “My head didn’t clear until the middle of the second half.”

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Stevens passed for three touchdowns and ran for another. He completed 13 of 24 passes for 141 yards.

Stevens, who last week threw nine touchdown passes in the Cobras’ 66-32 victory over the Pittsburgh Gladiators, helped the Cobras to an early 14-0 lead.

Stevens connected with receiver Richard Rodgers for an 18-yard touchdown pass to give the Cobras a 7-0 first-quarter lead.

The Cobras scored again early in the second quarter on Stevens’ 1-yard sneak to make it 14-0. On the drive, New England assisted the Cobras with three penalties.

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That drive could have been costly for the Cobras. Stevens did not return on their next three possessions after being hit hard on a pass attempt.

With Stevens out and backup Eric Beavers in at quarterback, the Cobras stayed in the game by playing outstanding defense.

After giving up a Steamroller 9-yard touchdown pass play from Harold Smith to James Lockaday, the Cobras’ defense stiffened.

In the scoreless third quarter, the Steamrollers managed only 12 yards, but the Cobras had only 11.

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The fourth quarter started the same until Stevens re-entered the game. Stevens then hit Matt McKnight for a 14-yard scoring play and passed to Joe Kelly for a 20-yard touchdown to seal the victory.


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