Sharks Stumble in Orlando on Saturday, 64-50
Sunday August 2, 2015
Following defeat, Jacksonville will travel to Orlando to open postseason
ORLANDO – The Jacksonville Sharks led by 17 points early in the second quarter, but faltered after halftime and could not recover, falling to the Orlando Predators by a 64-50 count at Amway Center on Saturday night. With the loss, the Sharks are locked into the No. 3 seed in the American Conference, and will travel to Orlando in the opening round of the postseason.
Jacksonville (9-8) jumped out to a quick two-score lead. After Tommy Grady hit Joe Hills for a 36-yard touchdown on the second play from scrimmage, Terrance Smith made an outstanding over-the-wall interception, picking off Orlando (11-6) quarterback Randy Hippeard on the Predators’ first drive of the game. A few plays later, Grady went deep to Hills again, as the 30-yard strike gave Jacksonville a 14-0 lead.
On the Predators’ next possession, the Sharks’ defense camp up big again, as Joe Sykes hit Hippeard to force an underthrow that Greg Reid snagged for his team-leading ninth interception of the season. On the opening play of the second quarter, Julian Rauch hit a chip-shot field goal to give Jacksonville a three-score lead, 17-0.
But Orlando began to climb back into the game shortly thereafter. On the ensuing drive, Hippeard hit Larry Brackins for a seven-yard touchdown pass to get Orlando on the board. The Predators then got their first big swing of the game on the next drive, as Nick Taylor intercepted Grady’s pass and returned it 24 yards for a touchdown. Just like that, Orlando turned a three-score deficit into a 17-14 ballgame.
From there, the two teams traded touchdowns up until halftime. Holding a 23-20 lead, the Sharks ran the clock under a minute before Grady hit Tiger Jones for an 11-yard score with 51 seconds left in the half. But Orlando managed the clock perfectly from there, forcing the Sharks to burn their final two timeouts of the half before Michael Simons plunged in from a yard out with just six seconds left in the half.
The Sharks led by a 30-27 count at the break, but Orlando received the opening kickoff and promptly took their first lead of the game, as Brackins finished the first drive of the third quarter with a five-yard touchdown run. After that score, Orlando led by a 34-30 count, and the Predators quickly added to that lead. On the Sharks’ next possession, Grady was sacked deep in his own territory and lost control of the ball. Cornelius Lewis pounced on the ball in the end zone to prevent an Orlando touchdown, but the safety gave the Predators a 36-30 lead. Brackins then struck again on the ensuing drive, as he powered in from a yard out to put Orlando up by two scores.
At that point, the Sharks trailed by a 43-30 count with five minutes left in the third quarter. Jacksonville was unable to make up ground, as the teams traded scores into the fourth. Driving with a chance to pull within one score yet again, Grady looked toward the end zone but was intercepted by Terence Moore, who returned it the length of the field for another Orlando touchdown. At that point, the Predators led by three scores and never looked back.
Grady and Hills connected for two more touchdowns as the fourth quarter continued, but Orlando thwarted each of the Sharks’ attempted onside kicks. Hills’ final touchdown of the game came with just 36 seconds left, and the Predators ran out the clock from there.
In the loss, Grady completed 41 of his 48 pas attempts for 393 yards and seven touchdowns against his two interceptions. Hills racked up 176 yards and five touchdowns on his 13 receptions, while London Crawford caught 16 passes for 112 yards and a score and Jones recorded 12 receptions for 105 yards and a touchdown. In the run game, Derrick Ross was limited to just three yards on three carries. On defense, Reid led the Sharks with eight total tackles (seven solo) in addition to his interception.
For Orlando, Hippeard completed 16 of his 21 pass attempts for 140 yards and two touchdowns against his two picks. Three different Predators combined for four rushing touchdowns, while Brackins led Orlando with four receptions for 41 yards and a score. Brandon Thompkins rushed for one score, caught a touchdown pass and returned a kickoff for a touchdown. Defensively, Nick Taylor led all players with 10.5 total tackles to go along with his interception return touchdown.
Following the loss Sharks will return home to face the New Orleans VooDoo in the regular season finale on Saturday, August 1. Kickoff on Sea Best Field is set for 7:00 p.m.
Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Game – Orlando WR Larry Brackins
Riddell Defensive Player of the Game – Orlando JLB Terence Moore
J. Lewis Small Playmaker of the Game – Orlando WR Brandon Thompkins
Cutters Catch of the Game – Jacksonville DB Terrance Smith’s over-the-wall interception in the first quarter
AFL Highlight of the Game – Orlando JLB Terence Moore’s 50-yard interception return touchdown in the fourth quarter
About the Jacksonville Sharks
The Jacksonville Sharks are a member 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.