07/18/2015 11:07 PM
JACKSONVILLE – The Jacksonville Sharks scored on every second-half offensive possession and Greg Reid intercepted two consecutive passes in the fourth quarter on Saturday night, keying the Sharks’ 74-67 victory over the Philadelphia Soul on Sea Best Field at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.
Jacksonville (8-7) trailed by a 39-33 coming out of the halftime break, and the Sharks were unable to make up much ground in the third quarter. The two teams traded scores into the fourth, when Tommy Grady fired a 39-yard touchdown to Tiger Jones, pulling the Sharks within a 60-53 margin.
After a long kickoff return, Philadelphia (13-3) faced a second-and-10 situation from the Sharks’ 14 yard line. Soul quarterback Dan Raudabaugh looked over the middle for a receiver in the end zone, but Reid undercut the route, snared the interception and wasted no time as he dashed the length of the field for his first career interception return touchdown. The ensuing point-after allowed Jacksonville to tie the game, 60-60, with 8:55 left in the game.
Following Reid’s score, the Sharks were able to pin the Soul back deep in their own territory, as Philadelphia started its next drive from the one. On the first play of the possession, Reid came up big again, snagging his second interception in as many plays. Reid actually returned his second pick the distance as well, but a block-in-the-back penalty moved Jacksonville back to the 17. But the Sharks took advantage anyway, as four plays later, Derrick Ross powered in from three yards out to give Jacksonville its first lead, 67-60.
Getting the ball back with four minutes to play, Philadelphia responded. Raudabaugh marched his offense down into the red zone, eventually hitting eligible tight end Adam Smith for a short touchdown pass that knotted the score at 67. Philadelphia then elected to attempt an onside kick, which Alvin Ray Jackson recovered at the Soul’s eight-yard line.
With an opportunity to run down the clock before scoring, Jacksonville forced Philadelphia to call its second timeout. On second and goal from the seven, Ross broke through the line and scored despite attempting to stop his momentum short of the goal line. The touchdown allowed Jacksonville to regain the lead, but did give the Soul 31 seconds to work with.
But the Sharks’ defense stood strong, forcing the Soul into a fourth-and-one situation with 15 seconds and no timeouts. Raudabaugh hit Harvey Binford to convert the first down, but Terrance Smith brought down Binford in bounds, and time expired before Philadelphia could run another play.
Earlier in the game, the Sharks found themselves playing from behind after a pair of first-half fumbles. On the game’s opening possession, the Jacksonville offense quickly moved into the red zone but stalled at that point, as Grady fumbled a fourth-and-goal run and Philadelphia recovered. Later in the half, Reid lost the handle on a kickoff return, yielded a fumble that the Soul recovered as well. The ensuing Philadelphia drive ended with a short touchdown run by Tommy Taggart, allowing Philadelphia to take a 33-21 lead.
Despite the early miscues, Grady kept his team in the game with a largely efficient first half. At the break, Jacksonville’s signal-caller was nine-of-12 for 158 yards and five touchdowns, finding Joe Hills for three scores in the game’s first two quarters. Grady finished the game 18-of-29 for 301 yards and seven touchdowns without an interception.
Jones led the Sharks with eight catches for 148 yards and three touchdowns, and in doing so established a new single-season franchise receiving record. Jones has now totaled 1,770 yards in 2015, passing Jomo Wilson’s total of 1,737 set in 2011. Hills racked up 115 yards and three touchdowns on his six catches, while Crawford totaled four grabs for 38 yards and a touchdown. On the ground, Ross carried the ball nine times for 16 yards and three scores.
On defense, Reid totaled five tackles and three pass breakups to go along with his two picks. Terrance Smith led all players with seven solo tackles and added two pass breakups, while LaRoche Jackson also broke up a pair of passes.
For the Soul, Raudabaugh went 26-of-40 for 305 yards and seven touchdowns against two picks. Taggart carried the ball six times for 13 yards and two scores, while Marco Thomas caught 10 passes for 105 yards and Ryan McDaniel scored three touchdowns. On defense, James Romain led the Soul with 5.5 total tackles and a pass breakup.
With the win, the Sharks solidified their place as the No. 3 seed in the American Conference, as the team is now a game and a half ahead of the 7-9 Cleveland Gladiators. Jacksonville returns to action next Saturday night, as the team will host the Tampa Bay Storm on Saturday, July 25 in a game that will air nationally on ESPNEWS. Kickoffon Sea Best Field is set for 7:00 p.m.
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 DB Greg Reid
Cutters Catch of the Game – Philadelphia WR Harvey Binford’s touchdown catch in the first quarter
AFL Highlight of the Game – Jacksonville DB Greg Reid’s 49-yard interception return for a touchdown in the fourth 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. Shark Nation Memberships for the 2016 season are now available, starting as low as $99. To reserve your membership or for more information, please call (904) 621-0700 and speak to a Membership Activation Specialist. 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.