08/13/2011 1:08 AM -
The Jacksonville Sharks wasted no time after their 64-55 win in the American Conference game over the Georgia Force. They immediately booked passage to the desert in Arizona to face the Arizona Rattlers in ArenaBowl XXIV. The game was the second meeting of the season for the two teams. The first game also took place on Arizona, and the Rattlers were able to walk away with 55-52 win over the Sharks. The two teams blew through the playoffs, and were finally able to meet again in the final game of the season as the top two teams in the league.
The game started of with an offensive battle between the two powerhouse teams. Odie Armstrong took the ball in the end zone on a 2 yard rush for the first score of the game for the Rattlers. Sharks Quarterback, Aaron Garcia, responded with a one play touchdown drive, on a 41 yard pass to his receiver, Jomo Wilson. The two teams exchanged scores one more time in the first quarter, but two missed PAT's by Sharks Kicker Marco Capozzoli, left the Rattlers with a 14-12 lead over the Sharks.
The second quarter started out all in favor for the Jacksonville Sharks, as Bill Alford managed to force a fumble from Rattlers Kick Returner, Virgil Gray, which was recovered by the Kicker Marco Capozzoli. Jomo Wilson managed to score for the Sharks after recovering a Sharks fumble in the end-zone. The Sharks and the Rattlers exchanged scores two more times before the end of the second quarter, including two touchdown passes to Ratters Receiver Chris Jackson, the first rushing touchdown of the game for Jamarko Simmons. Jamarko Simmons was close to scoring on the final play of the half for the Sharks, but he was stopped just a yard short of the end-zone, making the score 32-35 in favor of the Rattlers.
The second half of the championship game began with the first two defensive stops of the game, one by each team. The Rattlers managed to stop the Sharks on their next drive to get possession again, and they managed to get the first score of the half on an 8 yard pass from the league MVP, Nick Davila, to Odie Armstrong. The only other score of the third quarter was when the Sharks managed to drive the ball the length of the field, and score on a 3 yard pass from Aaron Garcia to Jamarko Simmons.
The score at the beginning of the fourth quarter was 38-42, with the Rattlers in the lead, and the game was left in the hands of any team. Odie Armstrong began the fourth quarter with his third touchdown of the game, with a one yard rush into the end-zone. Jamarko Simmons also gained his third touchdown of the night with a 7 yard pass from Aaron Garcia. The Sharks took advantage of Arizona Quarterback Nick Davila, when Micheaux Robinson was able to intercept his pass second down, and give the Sharks the ability to take the lead. Jacksonville managed to take the lead, 53-49, on a Kirby Griffin rushing touchdown. But the Rattlers answered back with a scoring drive of their own. Jeron Harvey was able to step up for the Sharks in the final few minutes of the game, bringing down a 45 yard touchdown pass to put the Sharks in position to win the game. Davila and the Rattlers exchanged scores with the Sharks one more time to leave the game in hand of the Sharks. With 21 seconds left on the clock, the Sharks began their final descent into history. With two seconds left, instead of going for the tie, the Sharks went for the win, and a 10 yard pass from Garcia to Jeron Harvey allowed the Sharks to walk away from the field as World Champions, with a 73-70 win over the Arizona Rattlers.
The win over Arizona resulted in the first ever ArenaBowl World Championship for the Jacksonville Sharks, and the first ever Championship for the veteran Quarterback Aaron Garcia, who finished his 17th season in the Arena Football League. Garcia set a new ArenaBowl record, throwing for 402 yards, and 8 touchdowns. The game was also the highest scoring game in ArenaBowl history. The Sharks were able to celebrate after only four days of rest, and the loss of their starting Center Randy Degg, who was also a runner-up for Offensive Linemen of the Year. The three point victory over the Arizona Ratters was the first win over Arizona in Sharks franchise history. The Sharks will return to Jacksonville at 11:40 PM ET, bringing the ArenaBowl Trophy back with them for the first time in history, and the people of Jacksonville will have something to celebrate for years to come.