Spain: Valiant Murcia Cobras effort failed to slow Osos Rivas offense in regular season finale

Win or lose on Saturday, the Murcia Cobras’ 2021 season was destined to end at the final whistle.

With all four playoff spots already secured and a disappointing 1-6 record behind them, you wouldn’t have blamed the Cobras for simply packing it in. Instead, they left it all on the field in their regular season finale, going so far as to bring in star Superserien receiver Alpha Jalloh for the final contest.

It still wasn’t enough upset the playoff bound Osos Rivas, who parried each punch with two blows of their own en route to a commanding 56-27 victory.

In a game marked by big plays, Rivas quarterback Garrett Dellechiaie found himself going deep early and often. On his team’s first drive, the import drew the defense offside and took advantage of the free play with a 35-yard touchdown toss to Mario Flores. It was the first of five touchdowns on the afternoon for the Massachusetts native, who finished 18 of 23 passing for 249 yards.

It was the new addition Jalloh who responded for the Cobras. Robert Cuda found him on a 28-yard strike down by the pylon, where the electric athlete stutter-stepped three defenders to sneak in for the score. Jalloh hauled in 9 passes for 180 yards in his first taste of Spanish action but failed to find the endzone again.

Osos Rivas QB Garrett Dellechiaie threw for 249 yards and 5 TDs Photo: Paula Romo

After each team had fired their opening volleys, the Osos quickly seized control of the contest. Dellechiaie led a methodical drive downfield and Mike Gentili finished it, busting through first contact and stiff-arming safety Adrian Serrano en route to a 19-yard touchdown. After Murcia failed to capitalize on a big Jalloh return, Dellechiaie found Flores for a second time with a 49-yard touchdown bomb. Rivas surprised their opponents with a well-executed onside kick and Javier Barrena added a five-yard touchdown catch to complete the 21-point swing.

The Cobras got back on the board to end the first half with a one-yard plunge from Antonio Monton, but a missed extra point attempt was an omen of things to come. Mario Flores received the second half opening kickoff and followed a wall of blockers, breaking loose for an 80-yard touchdown return and his third score of the game.

Robert Cuda put together a long drive in response but Monton was stopped two yards shy of the endzone on a fourth down gamble. The Osos marched down the field on the back of Mike Gentili and Alvaro Guitian finished with a four-yard toe-dragging touchdown catch to make it 42-13.

Season over and game out of reach, the Cobras kept fighting in the fourth as Monton caught a screen pass and raced 30 yards up the sideline for his second score. Dellechiaie answered with a 33-yard touchdown to a wide open Alejandro Tizon on the next drive, but Cuda responded with a 55-yard deep ball of his own to an outstretched Alpha Jalloh, setting up a 15-yard rushing touchdown from Jose Antonio Sotomayer.

Murcia WR Alpha Jalloh #8 caught 9 passes for 180 yards and 1 TD Photo: Paula Romo

There would be no ending on a positive note for the Cobras however. Backup quarterback Sergio Barbero stepped in for Rivas’ final drive and tossed a 40-yard touchdown to Jorge Martin, ending the game 56-27.

With Dellechiaie at the helm, there seemed to be no stopping the Osos offense. Javier Barrena was the favorite target with seven catches for 66 yards, Alejandro Tizon added four for 63 and Jorge Martin had two for 56, while each added a touchdown. Mario Flores had just two catches to go with his return touchdown, but turned them into 84 yards and two scores. Mike Gentili added 13 carries for 82 yards and a touchdown of his own.

For the Cobras, Robert Cuda went 13 of 23 passing for 243 yards and two touchdowns, while racking up 50 on the ground. In addition to Jalloh’s standout evening, running back Antonio Monton fueled the offence with 13 carries for 86 yards, three catches for 49 yards and a score in each department.

The real test begins for the Osos when the playoffs come in two weeks time, though Murcia’s valiant effort shows there are some defensive flaws to patch. That will be little consolation to the Cobras as they watch from the sidelines with a eye towards 2022.

Photos: @picsby.pau

J.C. Abbott is a student at the University of British Columbia and amateur football coach in Vancouver, Canada. A CFL writer for 3DownNation, his love of travel has been the root of his fascination with the global game.