07/11/2014 7:49 AM
JACKSONVILLE – The Jacksonville Sharks return to action on Monday, July 14, hosting the New Orleans VooDoo in a Week 18 matchup. Kickoff on Sea Best Field at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena is set for 8:00 p.m., as the game will air live on ESPN2 as part of the Arena Football League’s “Net10 Wireless AFL on ESPN” series.
Heading into this week, Jacksonville (6-9) enters another must-win situation. In order to qualify for the postseason, the Sharks need to win out and have two out of three of the Orlando Predators, Tampa Bay Storm and Philadelphia Soul lose out. The Sharks hope to build on their most recent result, as Jacksonville cruised past the San Antonio Talons to the tune of a 62-34 win on the road this past Sunday.
An added angle to Monday’s matchup is that the Sharks faced New Orleans (2-13) just three weeks ago. In that contest, the Sharks defense allowed just one touchdown in a dominant 54-13 victory on the VooDoo’s home turf. The Sharks’ defensive line racked up nine sacks, keeping New Orleans out of the end zone for the entire second half.
But victory will not come so easily this time around, as the VooDoo went toe-to-toe with the 13-3 Pittsburgh Power a week ago, leading in the fourth quarter before ultimately falling by a 48-43 margin. New Orleans’ offense is under the direction of rookie quarterback Adam Kennedy, who continues to improve after joining the VooDoo midway through the season. Against the Power last week, Kennedy crossed the 300-yard mark for the first time in his AFL career, tossing four touchdowns without an interception. Kennedy is also capable of impacting the game with his legs, as he has amassed six rushing touchdowns in his first four starts.
The Sharks’ defense will also need to contend with playmaking wide receiver Larry Beavers, who was unavailable for the teams’ first meeting. Beavers serves as the VooDoo’s primary kick returner, and has totaled 150 or more all-purpose yards in four of the 12 games in which he has played. Beavers and fellow speedster Quorey Payne combined for 240 receiving yards and three touchdowns against the Power, and will certainly pose a challenge for the Jacksonville secondary.
On the other side, the Sharks’ offense got a spark last week from veteran playmaker Jeff Hughley, who made his season debut against San Antonio after returning to the team on June 30. Hughley stepped right in as a starter at receiver and the Sharks’ kick returner, racking up 200 all-purpose yards and a touchdown catch in Jacksonville’s victory.
In addition to Hughley’s instant impact, the Sharks enjoyed a huge game from veteran Jomo Wilson, who earned Offensive Player of the Week honors after scoring five touchdowns on eight touches against the Talons. Hughley and Wilson provide two veteran targets for Jacksonville quarterback R.J. Archer, who has tossed 50 touchdowns against five interceptions in the last nine games.
On defense, the Jacksonville pass rush will aim to build on another solid outing against the Talons. The Sharks racked up four sacks against San Antonio, and now rank tied for second in the AFL with a total of 34 quarterback takedowns this season. The Sharks’ pass rush is a balanced effort. While Justin Parrish leads the way with eight sacks, the pass rush is a balanced effort as each of the team’s five pass rushers – four defensive linemen and Mac linebacker Aaron Robbins - has at least four sacks this season. Worth mentioning is the continued impressive work of nose guard James McClinton, who has now racked up seven sacks in seven games since joining the team via a mid-season trade with the Iowa Barnstormers.
The back end of the Sharks’ defense will look to contain New Orleans’ speedy receiving corps. With reigning All-Arena First-Teamer Terrance Smith on injured reserve, the Sharks are looking for Brodrick Brown to continue to make an impact alongside Micheaux Robinson and Xavier Brewer. Brown pulled in his first career interception against the Talons with an impressive diving catch, and could swing the game with another big play this week.
Tickets to Monday’s game are still available, and may be purchased by contacting the Sharks Ticket Office at 904-621-0700.
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 2015 season are now available, two tickets for as low as $99. 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.