For the first time this season, the upstart Las Vegas Outlaws looked every bit like the expansion team they are. The 2-1 Outlaws, coming off a bye week, traveled to Jacksonville, Florida to take on the 0-4 Sharks. It was “Elvis Night” in Jacksonville and the sounds of “Viva Las Vegas” filled Veterans Memorial Arena like they fill the Thomas & Mack Center back home in Las Vegas. This, however, was no home game.
Vegas received the opening kickoff and proceeded to put together a lengthy drive. The result was a J.J. Raterink touchdown pass to WR Jomo Wilson. Wilson, who spent last season with the Sharks, celebrated the TD with a “YES” chant celebration dance made famous by WWE superstar, Daniel Bryan. Fans saw him do this as a Shark and no doubt loved it, but were none too impressed to see him doing it as an Outlaw. Their team wasn’t too impressed either, and they responded. Jacksonville scored on their opening drive, and the 1st quarter ended in a 7-7 tie.
The 2nd quarter started just like the 1st, with another Raterink to Wilson TD. The Outlaws were fortunate to have scored on that drive, however. One play prior to the TD, Raterink was sacked and fumbled (a sign of things to come) allowing the Sharks to recover. A defensive holding penalty gave Vegas new life, and they were able to capitalize. The Sharks again responded with another TD drive to tie things up at 14.
Vegas looked to be in control late in the half with a 1st & goal at the 5 yard line. On 3rd & goal and the clock nearing the 2 1/2 minute mark, the entire tone of the game switched. FB Joe Mortenson took the handoff and spun off the left side. As he fought for extra yards, Jacksonville stripped the ball and recovered the fumble and proceeded to seize control of the game. The Sharks scored with 50 seconds left in the half to take a 21-14 lead. In the AFL, 50 seconds is more than enough time to get a score. The Outlaws found that out the hard way. Jacksonville went for the onside kick and caught Vegas by surprise. The ball was initially ruled that it was recovered by LV, but was overturned after a review. 4 plays later the Sharks were in the end zone again. Only 16 seconds showed on the clock. Still plenty of time to score….for the Sharks. On the first play after the kickoff, the Outlaws put the ball on the carpet again and the Sharks were in position to score. With 2 seconds left in the half, the Sharks extended their lead to 35-14 heading into the half. Three touchdowns in 48 seconds. That’s fast.
The Sharks wasted no time building on their lead, scoring again just 3 minutes into the 2nd half. The Outlaws had a glimpse of hope when WR, Gerald Young took the kickoff the distance for the LV touchdown. After a Sharks FG to make it 45-21, the Outlaws turned the ball over on just their second play. Jacksonville once again capitalized with a TD, and the 3rd quarter ended with a 52-21 lead. Las Vegas ran 2 plays from scrimmage in the 3rd. You often hear of defenses getting tired because they are in the field too much, but in this case it was true. The Outlaws defense spent the entire 3rd qtr on the field. No doubt they were gassed.
Jacksonville added to their lead in the 4th with a great one-handed touchdown catch by Sharks WR, Joe Hills, and another sack of Raterink resulting in a safety. A late Outlaws touchdown pass from backup QB, Sean Brackett closed the scoring with Vegas losing their second game of the season 60-28.
The Outlaws have another long break before their next game. It’ll be the first rematch for the new franchise as they welcome the 0-4 LA KISS to the T&M on May 4th. Vegas defeated LA in week 3, 61-48.