06/07/2014 5:38 PM
JACKSONVILLE – With the score tied and less than five minutes remaining in the game on Saturday, Terrance Smith returned an interception for a go-ahead touchdown, and the Jacksonville Sharks’ defense came up with a final stop in the closing seconds to seal a 34-28 victory over the Spokane Shock on Sea Best Field at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.
Just before Smith’s interception, Jacksonville (4-7) had tied the score with a 16-yard touchdown pass from R.J. Archer to Charles Gilbert. That fourth-down scoring pass broke a string of 26:24 in which neither team had scored a point, and was the second touchdown connection between the two players of the day. The score allowed the Sharks to tie the game for the first time since the first quarter, 28-28.
On Spokane’s very first offensive snap of the ensuing drive, Smith jumped a quick hitch route, stepping in front of Brian Zbydniewski’s pass to pull in his second interception of the game and coasting to the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown return. The biggest of a plethora of big defensive plays for the Sharks, Smith’s pick-six gave Jacksonville its first lead of the game, 34-28, with 4:36 left in the contest.
But after a bad snap prevented the Sharks from making the extra point, Spokane got the ball back with a chance to take the lead. The Shock managed the clock well, moving down the field until they had a first-and-goal from the three and less than a minute left. With three straight quarterback sneaks, Spokane forced the Sharks to burn their final timeouts, then called a timeout of their own with just four ticks left on the clock.
On the ensuing fourth and goal, Zbydniewski felt pressure, drifted in the pocket and fired a high pass to wide receive Nick Truesdell. The six-foot-seven Truesdell tried to high-point the football but could not bring down the catch, as the pass fell incomplete as time expired to seal the Jacksonville victory.
Spokane’s last touchdown came with 3:16 remaining in the second quarter, as the Jacksonville defense pitched a shutout for the final 33:36 of the game. The Sharks’ phenomenal defensive performance was an all-around effort, as James McClinton picked up 1.5 sacks, Aaron Robbins recorded 1.5 tackles for loss and a partial sack.
The Sharks were also able to come up with timely turnovers beyond just Smith’s game-winning interception. On Spokane’s first drive of the fourth quarter, the Shock had a first and goal from the two-yard line. Shock head coach Andy Olson dialed up a screen pass to Mike Washington, who was hit shy of the goal line, resulting in a fumble that was recovered by Jacksonville defensive lineman Jerry Turner. Turner’s fumble recovery led to the drive that eventually ended in Gilbert’s game-tying touchdown pass.
The Sharks erased a two-score deficit on Saturday, trailing at times by scores of 21-7 and 28-14. A heads-up play by Jomo Wilson helped Jacksonville avert disaster in the second quarter. With his team trailing by that 21-7 margin, Archer hit Jeron Harvey over the middle, as the Shark wideout broke a tackle and charged toward the end zone. A Spokane defender was able to catch Harvey from behind, forcing a fumble just shy of the goal line. But Wilson, who had been blocking for Harvey on the play, had the awareness to charge over and recover the fumble in the end zone for a Jacksonville touchdown.
The Jacksonville offense struggled to find a rhythm at times, as Archer completed 16 of his 38 passes for 210 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Harvey led the Sharks with six catches for 111 yards, while Gilbert snagged five receptions for 65 yards and two touchdowns in his AFL debut. R.J. Bibbs picked up key yards on the ground when called upon, totaling 10 yards and a touchdown on his four carries.
On defense, Smith led the way with 6.5 tackles and two pass breakups to go along with his pair of interceptions. Micheaux Robinson (4.0 tackles) and Xavier Brewer (3.5 tackles) each recorded a pass breakup as well. Jack linebacker Charlie Hunt had two total tackles, and also tipped a pass that led to Smith’s first interception.
For Spokane, Zbydniewski went 19-of-34 for 234 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Washington led the Shock with 11 receptions for 145 yards and two touchdowns, while Rashaad Carter also pulled in a touchdown catch. Defensively, Terence Moore racked up six tackles (five solo), two pass breakups and a forced fumble, while former Shark Derrick Summers led all players with three sacks.
With the win, the Sharks snap a two-game losing streak and get back to 3-3 at home. Jacksonville remains two and a half games behind the Orlando Predators in the South Division race.
The Sharks are back in action on Thursday, June 12, as the team will take on the Predators for the third time this season. Kickoff from CFE Arena in Orlando is set for 7:30 p.m.
Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Game – Spokane WR Mike Washington
Riddell Defensive Player of the Game – Jacksonville DB Terrance Smith
J. Lewis Small Playmaker of the Game – Jacksonville DB Terrance Smith
Cutters Catch of the Game – Jacksonville WR Charles Gilbert’s 16-yard touchdown catch in the corner of the end zone with 0:59 remaining in the second quarter
AFL Highlight of the Game – Jacksonville DB Terrance Smith’s 10-yard interception return touchdown with 4:36 remaining in the game
About the Jacksonville Sharks
The Jacksonville Sharks are members of the Arena Football League (AFL). The ArenaBowl XXIV and four-time 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 2014 season are now available, two tickets for as low as $89. To purchase 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 a fast-paced and exciting game to millions of fans in a myriad of markets across the country. The ESPN family of networks and CBS Sports Network will nationally broadcast AFL games each week for the entire season. The AFL schedule then culminates with the ArenaBowl Championship game live on ESPN.