07/19/2014 9:39 PM
CLEVELAND – The Jacksonville Sharks trailed by one score with four seconds left in the second quarter on Saturday night, but yielded a touchdown just before halftime and later turned the ball over three times in the second half. Those mistakes proved costly as the Sharks fell to the Cleveland Gladiators by a 62-20 count at Quicken Loans Arena.
Down by a 28-13 count, Jacksonville (6-11) had the ball in Cleveland (16-1) territory final minute of the first half, when quarterback R.J. Archer fired a four-yard touchdown pass to Maurice Williams with just four seconds to play until halftime. The score pulled Jacksonville to within eight points, 28-20. With the Sharks set to receive the opening kick of the third quarter, could have brought the Sharks right back in the game.
But Cleveland made use of the final ticks of the clock before halftime. After hitting wideout Dominick Goodman with a quick pass along the wall with one second left in the half, quarterback Shane Austin found Goodman in stride, as the receiver sprinted toward the goal line and rolled over a Jacksonville defender into the end zone. Goodman’s last-second touchdown allowed the Gladiators to seize a 35-20 edge at the break.
Just one stop behind Cleveland at that point, the Sharks received the opening kickoff of the third quarter and marched down into the red zone. But as Archer looked for Jeron Harvey over the middle, the pass went long and bounced off the iron into the hands of Gladiator Jack linebacker Joe Phinisee. This was the first of three consecutive turnovers for the Jacksonville offense.
Following another Cleveland touchdown, Archer’s deep pass to Jeff Hughley on the Sharks’ drive came up a bit short, as Marrio Norman pulled in a pick for the Gladiators. Cleveland converted that turnover into a score, as Thyron Lewis took a handoff around the corner for a one-yard touchdown that gave the Gladiators a 48-20 advantage.
On the Sharks’ next drive, Jacksonville again moved the ball into the red zone, but Jomo Wilson was stripped of the ball and Cleveland recovered the fumble. As was the case on the two previous drives, the Gladiators scored a touchdown off the turnover, as Jason Jones pulled in a tight end screen for a nine-yard score that put Cleveland ahead, 55-20.
The Sharks were not able to score on either of their final two drives, as first Fabrizio Scaccia’s 39-yard field goal attempt was blocked. After Chris Dieker checked into the game at quarterback and scored a four-yard touchdown for what proved to be the game’s final points, Lee Chapple got a series under center for Jacksonville. Chapple brought the Sharks into the red zone in the last minute of the game, but his pass to Maurice Williams was knocked away as time expired.
Saturday’s loss is the Sharks’ first-ever defeat against Cleveland, as Jacksonville had been 6-0 all-time against the Gladiators. The result also stands as Jacksonville’s lowest point total in franchise history, as the team’s previous low was 27 against the Philadelphia Soul during the 2012 season.
In the loss, Archer completed 18 of 37 passes for 229 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Wilson led Jacksonville with seven receptions for 76 yards and a score, while Harvey (56 yards, touchdown), Williams (56 yards, touchdown) and Hughley (52) yards all caught at least four passes. Hughley made plays in the kick return game, racking up 115 yards on his five runbacks.
On defense, Micheaux Robinson led Jacksonville with 9.5 total tackles (nine solo), while Brodrick Brown added 7.5 (seven solo). Jack linebacker Charlie Hunt came away with an interception in the second quarter, and also recorded Jacksonville’s only pass breakup.
For Cleveland, Austin went 24-of-34 for 345 yards and six touchdowns against one interception. Goodman (113 yards, three touchdowns) and Lewis (115 yards) each crossed the 100-yard mark, while Jones recorded both a rushing and receiving touchdown. On defense, LaRoche Jackon led Cleveland with 8.0 total tackles (six solo), while Willie McGinnis recorded the game’s only sack.
The Sharks will now return to Jacksonville and prepare for the season finale against the Los Angeles KISS on Saturday, July 26. Kickoff on Sea Best Field at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena is set for 7:00 p.m.
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.