05/23/2015 10:21 PM
JACKSONVILLE – The Jacksonville Sharks surged past the New Orleans VooDoo with a 42-0 mid-game run on Saturday night, cruising to a 70-41 victory at Smoothie King Center. The victory was the Sharks’ third consecutive win, and fourth in the last five games.
Jacksonville (4-5) trailed 20-14 in the second quarter, when Alvin Ray Jackson hauled in an interception to force the first of six consecutive defensive stops. On the ensuing drive, Tommy Grady found Tiger Jones for a 23-yard touchdown pass, putting the Sharks ahead for good, 21-20. In the final minute of the first half, Greg Reid picked off New Orleans (2-7) quarterback Brian Reader, giving the Sharks the ball back with 45 seconds until the break. The Jacksonville offense took advantage, as Grady hit Jeron Harvey for a 21-yard catch-and-run touchdown that gave the Sharks a 28-20 halftime lead.
The Sharks truly broke the game open in the third quarter, scoring three touchdowns on a total of six offensive plays to begin the second half. Grady opened the third quarter with a scoring pass to Joe Hills, who leapt over the wall to corral the first of his two touchdowns in the game. On the ensuing kickoff, Scooter Berry recovered a fumble to set the Sharks’ offense up at the 13 yard line. Lining up as the eligible tight end, Moqut Ruffins pulled in a screen pass on the first play of the ensuing drive, finding the end zone to put his team ahead, 42-20.
On the second play of New Orleans’ next drive, Joe Sykes got to Reader from behind, knocking the ball loose and recovering the fumble himself at the VooDoo three-yard line. Derrick Ross cashed in on the short field with a three-yard touchdown run, finishing a stretch of 21 points in a three-minute, 28-second span. Sykes again was a factor on the VooDoo’s next drive, sacking Reader just outside the end zone to force a clear-out field goal. After that stop, the Sharks marched down the field again, as Grady hit Jones for a 25-yard touchdown to put Jacksonville on top by a 56-20 count.
Though the VooDoo ended the Sharks’ 42-0 scoring run on the next drive, Jacksonville did not allow New Orleans to get closer than the final margin of 29 points for the remainder of the game. Offensively, Hills and Jones caught the final two of Grady’s eight touchdown passes in the fourth quarter as the Sharks cruised to victory.
Throwing just two incompletions through the end of the third quarter, Grady finished the game 23-of-28 for 278 yards and eight touchdowns without an interception. Jones led the Sharks with nine catches for 120 yards and four touchdowns, while Hills caught nine passes for 102 yards and two scores. Harvey totaled three receptions for 42 yards and a touchdown, while London Crawford caught one pass for one yard in his return to action from the knee injury that ended his 2014 season. Ross racked up 31 yards and two scores on his nine carries.
On defense, Reid finished with a team-high total of seven tackles to go along with a forced fumble, an interception and a pass breakup. Sykes led the pass rush with two sacks, extending his franchise-record streak to eight consecutive games with at least one quarterback takedown. Scooter Berry also recorded a sack, his first of the season. On special teams, LaRoche Jackskon recorded 125 kickoff return yards on his six runbacks.
For the VooDoo, Reader completed 21 of his 37 pass attempts, throwing for 278 yards and six touchdowns against two picks. Roger Jackson led New Orleans with eight catches for 122 yards and two scores, while Chris Duvalt and Johnny Lester each caught two touchdowns as well. Cortez Stubbs led the VooDoo defense with 5.5 total tackles and a fumble recovery.
Victory in hand, the Sharks will now prepare to head back on the road next weekend, as the team meets the Los Angeles KISS on Sunday, May 31. Kickoff from Honda Center is set for 6:00 p.m. ET.
Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Game – Jacksonville QB Tommy Grady
Riddell Defensive Player of the Game – Jacksonville DB Greg Reid
J. Lewis Small Playmaker of the Game – Jacksonville WR Tiger Jones
Cutters Catch of the Game – New Orleans WR Roger Jackson’s 17-yard reception in the first quarter
AFL Highlight of the Game – Jacksonville WR Joe Hills’ over-the-wall touchdown catch in the third quarter
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 as low as $99. 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 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 2015 season. The AFL schedule culminates with ArenaBowl XXVIII Saturday, August 29, 2015 on ESPN.