The Tampa Bay Vipers may have seen some light at the end of the tunnel just as hopes for a successful 2020 season started to come to a close. The Vipers went into week 4 with zero wins on the season against Cardale Jones and the DC Defenders but struck first scoring which then leads to a start to finish momentum that drove the Vipers to their first win with a shutout score of Vipers 25, DC 0.
The Vipers had two rushing touchdowns; one being runningback Jacques Patrick who picked up an 8-yard touchdown on a handoff in the 1st quarter and QB Taylor Cornelius who scrambled to the right side and ran the ball into the endzone as he powered through a defender to put the Vipers up 13-0 in the 3rd quarter.
The Vipers had one passing touchdown as Taylor Cornelius found #80 TE DeAndre Goolsby for a 13-yard touchdown pass in the 2nd quarter. Goolsby had 3 receptions on the day for 41 yards.
Tampa Bay’s kicker Andrew Frank made 2/3 field goals on Sunday night. The missed field goal was a 31-yard field goal that missed wide right.
Defenders quarterback Cardale Jones completed 9 of 22 passes for 72 yards with a completion rate of 41% and threw 1 interception that was picked off by Vipers CB Tarvarus McFadden.
The Vipers defense managed to put a hold not only on Jones passing game but also on the Defenders running game. DC rushed the ball for a total of 46 yards in 13 attempts during Sunday night’s game (before week 4 DC averaged 30.3 rush attempts per game).
DC has now dropped 2 straight road games to winless teams and may have to reconsider how they prepare for road games. DC has a record of 2-2 on the season and things aren’t looking good as head coach Pep Hamilton and the Defenders travels back home to face the talented 3-1 St. Louis Battlehawks in week 5.
The Vipers offense was much different than what we’ve witnessed in the previous weeks. QB Quinton Flowers was listed as inactive (roster exemption) and Aaron Murray was listed as active but is still coming off of a knee injury; giving Taylor Cornelius the start again at quarterback. Cornelius completed 24-31 passes with a total of 211 yards and 1 interception. Cornelius constantly threw the ball short and let his receivers get the yards after the catch. This worked well for the passing game for the Vipers and they cut down heavily on miss throws. Taylor Cornelius also used his feet to move the ball on 4 rushing attempts for 36 yards and 1 touchdown.
The Vipers running back duo; Jacques Patrick and De’Veon Smith showed their talents once again as they raised the bar with a combined 230 yards rushed. Patrick ran for a total of 108 yards and 1 TD on 21 carries. Smith carried the ball 122 yards on 24 attempts.
Tampa Bay defensive standout was DE Obum Gwacham who had 1 sack, 2 tackles, and 1 blocked field goal that was recovered by the Vipers FS Micah Hannemann.
Tampa Bay needs to keep the momentum going on the road as they travel to LA this week to face off against the Wildcats. Both teams are 1-3 on the season and the Vipers look to have found some team chemistry and hope to finish better than how they started this season.
Colin is a 21-year-old Tampa native covering the Tampa Bay Vipers. Colin is also a credentialed writer covering the Clearwater Threshers for Around The Horn Prospects. The Threshers are the Class A-Advanced affiliate for the Philadelphia Phillies.