03/29/2013 9:59 PM
PITTSBURGH, PA – Led by an impressive defensive effort and turnover-free football from quarterback Bernard Morris, the 2012 South Division Champion Jacksonville Sharks defeated the Pittsburgh Power, 61-35, at CONSOL Energy Center on Friday night.
A week after recording just one sack in the season opener in Tampa, the Jacksonville (2-0) defensive line generated consistent pressure throughout Friday’s game, bringing down Pittsburgh (0-2) quarterback Jordan Jefferson on several occasions. Jerry Turner led the charge with 2.5 sacks and a fumble recovery in the first half, finishing the game with a total of three sacks. Overall, the Sharks racked up seven sacks in Friday’s contest, as Turner, Justin Parrish, Aaron Robbins and Matt Marcorelle recorded at least a partial sack each.
Though Jacksonville led from wire-to-wire, the game remained close into the third quarter. The Sharks led 34-21 at halftime, but Pittsburgh opened the third with a scoring drive capped by a two-yard touchdown run by P.J. Berry. From there, though, the Sharks scored four of the game’s final five touchdowns to take control.
With his team up by just six points midway through the third, defensive back Micheaux Robinson stepped up and delivered the first interception of the Sharks’ season. Morris capped the ensuing drive with a one-yard touchdown run to put the Sharks up by two scores. On the ensuing Power possession, Terrance Smith intercepted Jefferson in the end zone to turn the ball over. Several plays later, Shark fullback Dusty Bear plunged in for his second rushing touchdown of the game. At that point, the Sharks led 42-28 and never looked back.
Earlier, Jacksonville had an opportunity to take control, as they forced a turnover on downs while already up by a 20-6 count. However, Morris was called for intentional grounding in the end zone, resulting in a Pittsburgh safety. The Power scored on the ensuing drive to pull within a single score at that point.
Overall, Morris delivered a second consecutive strong performance for Jacksonville. He completed 26 of his 37 passes for 248 yards and four touchdowns, adding 33 yards and two scores on his six rushing attempts. Morris has now totaled 11 touchdowns in without throwing a pick in the Sharks’ first two games of 2013.
At fullback, Bear ran the ball six times for 13 yards and two touchdowns while contributing to a pass-protection unit that allowed just one sack. Jeron Harvey piled up 12 receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown, while Jeff Hughley caught two touchdown passes for the second straight week and racked up 174 all-purpose yards. Markee White added 3 catches for 54 yards and a touchdown, while Maurice Avery grabbed 3 receptions for 18 yards.
For Pittsburgh, Jefferson ended the game 12-of-22 for 171 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, briefly leaving the game with what was announced as a rib injury. Jefferson returned for the fourth quarter, but in his absence backup Shane Austin completed seven of his 11 attempts for 85 yards and an interception.
With the win, the Sharks improve to 2-0 for the first time in franchise history. Jacksonville puts its perfect record on the line against the Cleveland Gladiators in Week 3, with kickoff from Cleveland set for 7:00 on Saturday, April 6. The game will air live on AM 600 WBOB and may also be watched online via the “AFL Live” video player.
Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Game – Jacksonville QB Bernard Morris
Riddell Defensive Player of the Game – Jacksonville DL Jerry Turner
J. Lewis Small Playmaker – Pittsburgh WR/KR P.J. Berry
Cutters Catch of the Game – Jacksonville WR Markee White’s 37-yard touchdown in the first quarter
AFL Highlight of the Game – Jacksonville DB Micheaux Robinson’s third-quarter interception
About the Jacksonville Sharks
The Jacksonville Sharks are members of the Arena Football League (AFL). The ArenaBowl XXIV and back-to-back-to-back South Division Champions are presented by Sea Best Seafood and play all home games on Sea Best Field at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. Season Tickets for the 2013 season are now available, two tickets as low as $185. To reserve your season tickets or for more information, please call (904) 621-0700. Follow the Sharks on facebook at facebook.com/jaxsharks and on Twitter @jaxsharks, as well as the Attack Dance Team at facebook.com/sharkattackdance and Chum at facebook.com/chumsharks.
About the AFL
Since its inception in 1987, the Arena Football League has showcased its fast-paced and exciting game to millions of fans in a myriad of markets across the country. CBS Sports Network will broadcast an AFL National Game of the Week on Saturday nights for the entire regular season and postseason through the semifinal round. The ArenaBowl XXVI Championship Game will air on the CBS Television Network on August 17, 2013.