06/12/2014 10:18 PM
ORLANDO – An onside recovery given up late in the first half and a third-quarter turnover on downs proved costly for the Jacksonville Sharks on Thursday, as the team fell to the Orlando Predators by a 58-48 count at CFE Arena.
Jacksonville (4-8) had seized an early two-score lead thanks to impressive offensive execution and a defensive stop. Quarterback R.J. Archer threw a touchdown pass on each of the Sharks’ first four drives, and the Jacksonville defense forced a four-and-out on Orlando’s second possession. As a result, the Sharks had a 27-14 lead with 6:55 left in the second quarter.
But the Predators surged from behind before halftime. After a 16-yard touchdown pass from Bernard Morris to Greg Carr, Orlando was able to recover an onside kick to gain an extra possession. Orlando (8-5) converted the recovery into a score, as Morris brought his team down the field and dashed into the end zone from six yards out. That gave the Predators their first lead of the night, 28-27, with 50 seconds left in the first half.
The Sharks had an opportunity to regain the lead before halftime, but a 35-yard field goal attempt hit off the right upright and was no good. The two teams opened the third quarter by trading touchdowns, as Morris hit Carr again before Archer connected with Jomo Wilson from 13 yards out. Wilson’s touchdown was an impressive individual effort, as he was first hit at the five-yard line before dragging multiple defenders into the end zone.
Orlando answered Wilson’s score with a one-yard touchdown run by Michael Simons, putting the Predators ahead by a 42-34 count. Jacksonville then promptly moved the ball into the end zone, but came up empty. Facing third-and-goal from the three, Archer was unable to find a receiver on third or fourth down, as the back-to-back incompletions resulted in a turnover on downs.
The Predators quickly turned that stop into another score, as Gerald Young spun out of a tackle on his way to a 42-yard touchdown. That put Orlando ahead by two scores for the first time, 49-34. Though the Sharks answered with a touchdown, as Jared McGriff-Culver plunged in from a yard out, Orlando’s Anthony Schutt intercepted Archer’s two-point pass and returned it to the end zone, giving Orlando two more points. As a result, despite the touchdown, the Sharks still trailed by two scores, 51-40.
Jacksonville then attempted an onside kick, but the ball was batted around and eventually recovered by Orlando’s Tracy Belton for a touchdown. With that score, the Predators took a three-score lead with just 3:34 left in the game. The Sharks offense did cut their deficit to 10, as Maurice Williams hauled in a 46-yard catch-and-run touchdown and Jomo Wilson pulled down Archer’s two-point pass. But Orlando recovered the Sharks’ ensuing onside attempt, taking over with less than a minute left in the game. From there, Morris and the Predator offense ran out the remainder of the clock to close out the contest.
With the loss, Jacksonville falls three and a half games behind the Predators in the South Division, as Orlando has swept all three matchups in the season series. With eight losses, the Sharks now have two more defeats than each of the three teams – Philadelphia, Iowa and Tampa Bay – that are tied for the final playoff spot in the American Conference.
In the loss, Archer completed 25 of his 38 passes for 348 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions – though he was picked on that first two-point attempt. Playing in just his second game with the Sharks, Williams established a new team season high with 199 receiving yards, a total which he amassed on 12 catches, scoring three touchdowns along the way. Wilson caught seven passes for 77 yards and two scores, while Charles Gilbert chipped in with five receptions for 56 yards and a score. McGriff-Culver totaled six yards and a touchdown on his five carries.
On defense, Xavier Brewer and Charlie Hunt led the Sharks with matching totals of 5.5 tackles. James McClinton (1.0 sacks), Justin Parrish (0.5) and Jerry Turner (0.5) combined to take down Morris on back-to-back plays in the first quarter, keying the Sharks’ early defensive stop. McClinton has now recorded three sacks in the last two weeks.
For Orlando, Morris went 18-of-23 for 255 yards and four touchdowns, adding 10 yards and a score on his five rushing attempts. Carr led Orlando with seven receptions for 75 yards and three touchdowns, while Belton paced the Predator defense with seven solo tackles and a pass breakup.
The Sharks will look to get back in the win column next Saturday night, as the team travels to face the New Orleans VooDoo in another South Division matchup. Kickoff from Smoothie King Center in New Orleans is set for 8:00 p.m. ET.
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.