Boltz’ air attack eclipses Sea-Tac Cobras
PORTLAND, Ore. — The Seattle-Tacoma Cobras were limited in numbers Saturday night, and the Portland Boltz exploited it over and over again.
Boltz quarterback Russell Schneider completed 30 of 39 passes for 538 yards and eight touchdowns to lead Portland (4-0, 2-0 PDFL) in a 56-40 victory in Professional Developmental Football League play at Lincoln High School's Mike Walsh Field.
It was an all-out air attack for most of the night as Sea-Tac's Justin Walz countered when he finished 21-for-35 passing with 362 yards and four touchdowns. But he was also intercepted four times — safety Jason Pabillano snagged three of them — and the Cobras (2-1, 1-1 PDFL) never had a lead.
Many Sea-Tac linemen played both ways due to the absence of several defensive starters who didn't make the trip. Their return for the teams' rematch June 22 in Renton is uncertain.
"I'm proud of them because they fought hard. There were some penalties and things that kept us from making plays, but that's football."
Schneider, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound QB from Portland State, was on from the start with a variety of passes out of three- and four-receiver sets. The Cobras had the most difficulty with stopping his throws down the middle and deep down the sidelines.
"I did a lot of studying and preparation to move my offensive linemen into position," Schneider said. "The offensive line protected me, sometimes for eight, nine, 10 seconds. When you've got that much time, you better make a play."
When Schneider seemingly ran out of time, he bought it for himself, often rolling to one side and reversing field to find an open receiver. Twelve of his completions went for 20 yards or longer. Three of them went for more than 40, and they were all touchdowns.
Schneider connected with Nick Bodeman seven times for 144 yards and scores of 30, 24 and 45 yards. Ervin Sims and Danny Keenan caught two TD passes apiece.
Sims finished with five receptions for 116 yards, and Zach McGinnis also eclipsed the century mark with 101 yards on six catches. Isaiah Smith hauled in seven passes for 97 yards.
That's not to say Schneider didn't notice a few holes on the Cobras' defense. At least three starters on that side of the ball — two linebackers and cornerback — did not travel with the team.
"Those linebackers are studs," Schneider said.
Up front, players like Doug Palmer, Everett Corley and Sean Samuelu played iron-man football with very few series off on either side of the ball, and the job became more difficult because the Cobras were in catch-up mode all night.
"We said last night we were going to ride with what we've got," said Samuelu, a 6-1, 310-pound offensive lineman who also saw time at defensive end. "A lot of guys stepped up today.
"Even though we ended up on the wrong side (of the scoreboard), I can say we gave it all we had."
The Boltz grabbed their first lead following Pabillano's interception of Walz as the Cobras were driving down the field. Schneider capped an 85-yard drive on just six plays with a 21-yard lob to Sims down the right sideline.
They could have videotaped the play and put it on a repeating loop for the next three hours.
Titus Mack answered immediately for the Cobras with an electrifying 92-yard kickoff return for a score.
"It just opened up like the Red Sea," Mack said. "I took it and burst through. Great blocking."
The snap on the point-after attempt was low, and kicker Cole Zamira's looping pass attempt failed on the broken play. It was a microcosm of what was to come: The Cobras' execution was just a little off.
Walz carried his team and helped Sea-Tac battle back from a 28-19 halftime deficit to twice pull within two points. He found Mack on a 27-yard TD midway through the third quarter to make it 28-26, and after Schneider extended the lead with a 44-yarder to Sims, Walz and Mack connected with a beautiful 73-yard bomb to make it 35-33 with 3:46 left in the quarter.
"It was a perfect pass," Mack said. "You couldn't have scripted it any better. I did my job, just trying to make a play for my team in a crucial situation."
Walz said the result surprised him because he rolled to his right on a bootleg after a run fake, even though Sea-Tac hadn't been running the ball effectively to that point.
"Andre (Hardy Jr.) did a great job on his drag route, pulling defenders with him (to the opposite side of the field), and T-Mack did a good job of running by his guy," Walz said.
Mack finished with 244 all-purpose yards, including four catches and 126 yards receiving. Chris Poindexter caught seven passes for 85 yards and a touchdown, and Malcolm Shepherd hauled in three balls for 84 yards and a score.
Any hopes of a comeback were dashed when Schneider led the Boltz on three straight scoring possessions to start the fourth. He found Danny Keenan with TD passes of 29 and 41, the second of which put Portland on top 56-33 with 3:10 remaining in the game. In between was the 45-yard score to Bodeman.
Sea-Tac running back Ken Cornist put together back-to-back 100-yard performances with 122, including a late 29-yard score.
Penalties also were a factor. The Cobras continued to have problems in that area and were flagged 18 times for 152 yards. Portland was penalized for 75 yards on 11 infractions.
"Discipline," Walz said. "Although a lot of penalties came out of being fatigued."
Samuelu said it comes down to trusting each other.
"We've got to play as one unit," he said. "That's the only way to be successful. It was a hell of a fight today.
"I'm not guaranteeing anything, but the game (June 22) will look nothing like this," he added. "It's going to be a better game, I'll tell you that right now."
Portland Boltz 56, Seattle-Tacoma Cobras 40
at Lincoln High School in Portland, Ore.
Sea-Tac Cobras 13 6 14 7 — 40
Portland Boltz 21 7 7 21 — 56
P — Ervin Sims 21 pass from Russell Schneider (Schneider kick), 10:13
ST — Titus Mack 92 kick return (pass failed), 9:59
P — Nick Bodeman 30 pass from Schneider (Schneider kick), 7:28
ST — Chris Poindexter 23 pass from Justin Walz (Cole Zamira kick), 5:45
P — Isaiah Smith 2 pass from Schneider (Schneider kick), 0:00
ST — Malcolm Shepherd 40 pass from Walz (pass failed), 12:51
P — Bodeman 24 pass from Schneider (Schneider kick), 1:53
ST — Mack 27 pass from Walz (Zamira kick), 7:53
P — Sims 44 pass from Schneider (Schneider kick), 4:47
ST — Mack 73 pass from Walz (Zamira kick), 3:46
P — Danny Keenan 29 pass from Schneider (Schneider kick), 14:55
P — Bodeman 45 pass from Schneider (Schneider kick), 8:36
P — Keenan 41 pass from Schneider (Schneider kick), 3:10
ST — Ken Cornist 29 run (Zamira kick), 1:45
First downs 18 18
Rushes-yards 22-158 24-85
Passing yards 362 538
Comp-Att-Int 21-36-4 30-39-0
Fumbles-lost 1-0 1-0
Sacked-yards lost 2-14 0-0
Punts-Avg. 1-20.0 2-37.5
Return yards 270 166
Penalties-yards 18-152 11-75
Rushing — Seattle-Tacoma, Ken Cornist 16-122, Justin Walz 5-32, Chris Poindexter 1-4. Portland, David Smith 13-34, Russell Schneider 4-9, Darrell Smith 2-2, Tony Pierson 3-31, Jason Hoyt 2-9.
Passing — Seattle-Tacoma, Walz 21-35-4 362, Cole Zamira 0-1-0 0. Portland, Schneider 30-39-0 538.
Receiving — Seattle-Tacoma, Poindexter 7-85, Titus Mack 4-126, Cornist 4-44, Malcolm Shepherd 3-84, Andre Hardy Jr. 1-11, AJ Springer 2-12. Portland, Isaiah Smith 7-97, Zach McGinnis 6-101, Ervin Sims 5-116, Nick Bodeman 7-144, David Smith 2-4, Danny Keenan 3-76.
By Brian McLean