SaberCats ride huge third quarter to victory in ArenaBowl XXVIII
How about that third quarter? Thanks to great defensive line play, turnover mojo, and a Jacksonville implosion, the San Jose SaberCats turned what was a competitive game into a laugher in just 15 minutes in ArenaBowl XXVIII.
The SaberCats were given all they could handle in the first half by a game Jacksonville Sharks team. Jacksonville made San Jose work for it in the first 30 minutes, forcing third and goal three times and a fourth down that was only converted by way of a defensive holding penalty. On the other side of the ball, Sharks Joe Hills was torching the SaberCats' secondary with impunity. Hills had four touchdowns in the first half, and we looked set for one of the best games in ArenaBowl history.
Then... the third quarter happened. After a quick three-play drive resulting in a TD that gave the SaberCats their first lead of the game, the defensive line went to work and set the tone for the rest of the game. Two holding penalties put the Sharks in 4th and 23, where Francis Maka tipped a Tommy Grady pass that resulted in an interception return for a touchdown by David Hyland.
On the next possession, the Sharks turned it right back over when Michael Lindsey fumbled on what looked to be a very painful tackle. Two plays later, Erik Meyer found Darius Reynolds in the end zone to put the SaberCats in control of the game.
Of course what happened next virtually sealed the game for the SaberCats. Nick Pertuit nailed a kickoff off the bar that Hyland recovered for an easy touchdown, and the rout was officially on.
This was a fitting end for both teams seasons. The Sharks have been one of the most talented teams all season, but they had a knack of totally melting down in tight spots, and their tendency to let things slip away doomed them.
For the SaberCats, if not for a still unbelievable hiccup against the Los Angeles KISS in the middle of the season, they would go down as the only immortal team in the history of the AFL. Despite the loss, they will go down as the best team in the history of the league with a 20-1 record. No professional football team has ever managed to notch 20 wins in a season except for the 2015 San Jose SaberCats, and no AFL team has ever had a better winning percentage in league history over the course of a season. They dominated virtually all of their opponents thanks to a great offense and one of the greatest defenses this league has ever seen.