Sharks Fall to SaberCats in ArenaBowl XXVIII, 68-47
Saturday August 29, 2015
Third-quarter turnovers prove costly as Jacksonville's playoff run ends
STOCKTON, CA – The Sharks led by six points at halftime in ArenaBowl XXVIII, but opened the third quarter with back-to-back turnovers on offense. The miscues allowed the San Jose SaberCats to take the lead for good, as the Sharks fell by a 67-48 count at Stockton Arena on Saturday night.
Jacksonville (12-9) led by a 33-27 score coming out of the locker room for the start of the third quarter before San Jose (20-1) quarterback Erik Meyer engineered a touchdown drive on the opening possession of the second half. Meyer’s 26-yard pass to D.J. Stephens allowed San Jose to take its first lead of the game, as the SaberCats seized a 34-33 advantage.
The Sharks’ offense had a chance to continue to match the SaberCats score-for-score, but Jacksonville came up empty on its first two drives of the second half. After San Jose took the lead, offensive penalties backed the Sharks up to a fourth and long from inside their own 10. On that play, Tommy Grady’s pass was batted at the line, and the deflection fell into the arms of David Hyland, who returned it 10 yards for a SaberCat touchdown.
On the first play of the next drive, Grady tossed a swing pass out to Michael Lindsey. As Lindsey was brought down from behind, he lost control of the football and San Jose’s Fred Obi recovered. Two plays later, Meyer hit Darius Reynolds for an eight-yard touchdown pass that allowed the SaberCats to take a two-score lead, 48-33. The very next kickoff bounced high off the iron, and Hyland jumped to pick the ball out of midair and took it five yards into the end zone. Just like that, San Jose led by a 55-33 count with 3:54 left in the third quarter.
From there, the Sharks were unable to gain any ground. On the next drive, Moqut Ruffins took it inside the SaberCat 10-yard line on a tight end screen, but the Sharks were unable to find the end zone, as Grady’s fourth-down pass fell incomplete. Meyer responded with another score, as the SaberCat quarterback pulled the ball down and dashed 17 yards for a touchdown.
The Sharks were not able to come any closer than three scores at any point in the fourth quarter. Though Terrance Smith hauled in a pair of touchdowns in the final period, San Jose recovered each of the Sharks’ attempted onside kicks. SaberCat fullback Odie Armstrong ran out the clock to seal the game.
Earlier, the two teams engaged in a back-and-forth first half that saw nine touchdowns on the first nine combined offensive possessions. Grady fired five first-half scores, as Joe Hills hauled in four of those five and Tiger Jones made a spectacular over-the-wall touchdown catch late in the first quarter. Hills’ fourth score came with 15 seconds left in the half, and Greg Reid snared an interception in the end zone on the final play of the first half, allowing the Sharks to take the lead into the locker room.
In the loss, Grady completed 22 of his 36 pass attempts for 310 yards and seven touchdowns against one interception. Fullback Derrick Ross was limited to 13 rushing yards on his seven carries. At receiver, Hills paced the Jacksonville offense with nine receptions for 133 yards and four touchdowns, while Smith caught four passes for 53 yards and two scores. Jones added three catches for 35 yards and his one touchdown. On defense, Reid racked up seven solo tackles to go along with his interception.
For the SaberCats, Meyer went 17-of-29 for 204 yards and four touchdowns against one interception. On the ground, Meyer totaled 26 yards and two touchdowns on his three carries, while Armstrong also rushed for a score. Reggie Gray led San Jose with nine receptions for 95 yards and three touchdowns. On defense, Clevan Thomas paced San Jose with 7.5 total tackles, while Donte Paige-Moss notched four tackles and a forced fumble and Hyland recorded 4.5 tackles to go along with his two non-offensive touchdowns.
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.