Sharks Rally Behind To Defeat New Orleans
Jacksonville Sharks Press Release
JACKSONVILLE – Anthony Jones scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter as the Jacksonville Sharks closed out the regular season with a win on Saturday night, rallying from behind to defeat the New Orleans VooDoo by a 36-33 count in front of 11,486 on Sea Best Field.
Jacksonville (10-8) trailed by 12 points with just under 10 minutes remaining after New Orleans (3-14-1) quarterback Adam Kennedy notched his third rushing touchdown of the night. On the ensuing drive, Chapple picked up 15 yards with a scramble, then hit an open Jones in front of the Sharks’ bench for a 14-yard score. Chapple’s second touchdown pass of the season pulled the Sharks to within five, 33-28.
Rather than aim for a defensive stop, the Sharks elected to try an onside kick. Joe Hills gathered Julian Rauch’s bouncing kick at the 11-yard line, allowing the Sharks to gain an extra possession with about five minutes remaining. Chapple then marched the Jacksonville offense into the red zone, and on a snap from the fourth-yard line, he flipped the ball out to Jones, who took advantage of solid blocking from his fellow receivers en route to the end zone. Jacksonville then went for two, and Chapple hit Joe Hills in the corner of the end zone for the conversion, putting the Sharks ahead by a 36-33 margin.
On the first play of New Orleans’ ensuing drive, VooDoo fullback Roosevelt Falls lost the handle, andNicolas Jean-Baptiste picked up the loose ball. The fumble recovery gave the Sharks’ offense the ball with 55 seconds remaining, and Jacksonville burned off the remainder of the clock to seal the victory. On the final drive, Chapple converted a third-and-six situation with a 20-yard pass to Jones, then carried the ball forward on the next snap to finish the game.
Earlier, the Sharks’ defense set the tone with back-to-back stops to open the contest. On the opening drive, Jacksonville’s pass rush took down Kennedy on three separate occasions, as Joe Sykes (1.5 sacks), Jerry Turner (1 sack) and Jean-Baptiste (0.5 sacks) all got in on the action. In the process, Sykes extended his own single-season AFL sack record to 18.5, 2.5 more than the mark he set with theSan Jose Sabercats in 2012.
The teams traded scores in a low-scoring first half, as Tommy Grady hit Hills and Jones for a pair of touchdowns. In the second quarter, Kennedy temporarily pulled the VooDoo in front with his first rushing touchdown, but LaRoche Jackson returned a blocked extra point all the way back for two points, allowing the Sharks to maintain a 14-13 lead.
Grady played under center through the first series of the third quarter, completing 10 of his 13 pass attempts for 131 yards and two touchdowns. Seeing his most significant playing time of the season, Chapple went 8-of-13 for 115 yards, one touchdown and one interception while rushing for 20 yards on four carries. Derrick Ross gained 17 yards on his seven rushing attempts, while Jones took each of his two rushing attempts in for scores.
Jones also finished as the team’s leading receiver, racking up 125 yards and two touchdowns on seven receptions. Jones ends the regular season with 2,087 receiving yards, his fourth career 2,000 season and the most by an individual player in Jacksonville’s franchise history. Hills caught eight passes for 97 yards and a touchdown, and has now scored in 52 consecutive regular season games played. London Crawford added three catches for 24 yards.
On defense, Jackson racked up 8.5 tackles and a tackle for loss in addition to his blocked extra point return. Up front, Sykes recorded 1.5 sacks while Jerry Turner totaled 5.5 tackles with a sack.
For New Orleans, Kennedy went 16-for-20 for 182 yards and a touchdown while carrying the ball four times for nine yards and three touchdowns. Falls rushed for a game-high 33 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries, while Charles McClain caught the VooDoo’s lone touchdown pass. Cortez Stubbs led the VooDoo with six solo tackles, while Cameron McGlenn recorded an interception.
With the regular season now complete, the Sharks will prepare to square off against the Orlando Predators in the first round of the postseason on Saturday, August 15. Kickoff from Orlando’s Amway Center is set for 7:30 p.m.