06/04/2016 8:50 PM -
JACKSONVILLE – Tied at 42 entering the fourth quarter, the Jacksonville Sharks were unable to keep pace in the final frame, as the Sharks did not score on either of their last two possessions and ultimately fell to the Philadelphia Soul, 56-42, in front of 10,985 on Sea Best Field at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena on Saturday night.
The pivotal stretch in Saturday’s contest game early in the fourth quarter. With the score tied at 42, Philadelphia (8-2) promptly took the lead with a four-play, 47-yard touchdown drive that culminated with a five-yard touchdown pass from Dan Raudabaugh to eligible tight end Adam Smith. That score gave the Soul a seven-point lead with 12:21 left in the game.
Jacksonville (4-5) had a chance to match, on its next drive, but the Sharks’ possession never got going. On a fourth-and-one snap from his own 14, Tommy Grady looked for Joe Hills, but the pass fell incomplete and the Soul took over with a short field. Two plays later, Raudabaugh hit Ryan McDaniel for a 17-yard touchdown to put Philadelphia on top, 56-42.
The Sharks were not able to close the gap from there. On the ensuing drive, the Sharks marched down the field into the red zone, but stalled in a goal-to-go situation. On fourth down, Grady felt pressure and had to throw the ball high off the net. Hills attempted to snag the ricochet in traffic, but the ball hit the turf and the offense turned it over on downs again. Regaining possession with less than a minute remaining, Philadelphia burned down the remainder of the clock to seal the game.
Earlier, Jacksonville had a chance to gain the advantage after a standout play on special teams. Coming out of halftime in a 28-28 game, the Sharks kicked off to open the third quarter. As the Soul’s Chris Duvalt brought back the return, Keon Lyn chased Duvalt down from behind and stripped the ball, forcing a fumble that David Hyland recovered and brought into Soul territory.
But the Sharks were not able to take advantage of that opportunity. On fourth-and-goal from the two, Dexter Jackson checked into the game on offense as the Sharks used a heavy formation. After some misdirection, Grady looked for Jackson in the corner of the end zone, but the pass fell incomplete and Jacksonville turned it over on downs. Philadelphia then promptly took the lead with a score, forcing the Sharks to play catch-up throughout the third quarter.
The first half of Saturday’s game saw Arena Football League history. On fourth-and-nine from his own nine-yard line, Grady hit a diving Tiger Jones for a 12-yard pass and a first down. That very reception was the 1,000th of Jones’ storied career, as he became the fifth player in League history with 1,000 or more receptions. That same pass also pushed Grady past 30,000 career passing yards, as he became the ninth player in AFL history to accomplish that feat.
Added to the Sharks’ roster this week, Reggie Gray made an immediate impact, as his first reception as a Shark was a 10-yard touchdown catch on Jacksonville’s opening drive. Gray went on to catch two touchdowns and return a kickoff for a score in his Shark debut.
In the loss, Grady completed 27 of his 44 passes for 308 yards and four touchdowns against one interception. Hills led the Sharks with 13 catches for 163 yards and two touchdowns, while Gray caught eight passes for 66 yards and two scores in addition to his kickoff return touchdown. Jones hauled in five receptions for 71 yards, while Ross carried the ball six times for nine yards and a score.
On defense, Micheaux Robinson led the Sharks with 8.5 total tackles (six solo) and recovered a fumble in his season debut. Hyland totaled 4.5 tackles in addition to his fumble recovery, while Mark Weivoda recorded the Sharks’ lone sack.
On the other side, Raudabaugh went 21-of-25, throwing for 289 yards and six touchdowns without an interception. McDaniel led the Soul with 10 receptions for 167 yards and three scores, while Jeramie Richardson racked up 20 yards and two touchdowns on seven rushing attempts. James Romain totaled seven tackles and an interception.
Next week, the Sharks will look to get back on the winning track as they travel to face the Tampa Bay Storm on Saturday, June 11. Kickoff from Amalie Arena in Tampa is set for 5:00 p.m.
Under Armour Offensive Player of the Game: Philadelphia QB Dan Raudabaugh
Riddell Defensive Player of the Game: Philadelphia DB James Romain
J. Lewis Small Playmaker of the Game: Jacksonville WR/KR Reggie Gray
Cutters Catch of the Game: Philadelphia DB James Romain’s over-the-wall interception in the first quarter
AFL Highlight of the Game – Jacksonville WR/KR Reggie Gray’s 58 yard kickoff return touchdown with 9:20 left in the third quarter