SAN ANTONIO, Texas - Despite a dominant defensive effort that included four turnovers and five sacks, the Jacksonville Sharks (6-2) were unable to execute in the game's final minute, falling to the San Antonio Talons (3-4), 34-30, at the Alamodome on Saturday night.
The loss is the Sharks' second straight defeat, as the team was unable to regain a two-game lead over the Tampa Bay Storm in the South Division. Jacksonville had a chance to win the game in the final seconds. After moving the ball into Talon territory and managing the clock, the Sharks had a second down at the San Antonio 10-yard line with eight seconds left.
Quarterback Bernard Morris dropped back and looked for Jeron Harvey, but the pass deflected off the rebound net and fell out of bounds. Initially, it was ruled that time had expired, but video review put two seconds back on the clock and gave the Sharks a final play. But Jacksonville was not able to take advantage of this second opportunity, as Morris again looked for Harvey but his pass sailed out of bounds to end the game.
Stepping back a few possessions, Jacksonville had a 27-14 lead heading into the final seconds of the third quarter. But on the final play of the third, Talon quarterback Nick Hill hooked up with receiver D.J. Stephens for a 14-yard touchdown to pull the Talons within one score. Though Marco Capozzoli answered with a field goal on the Sharks' next drive, making the score 30-20, Hill and Stephens connected again on the ensuing possession to close the gap to three. The Sharks could not respond with a score to extend the lead, however, as three straight incompletions led to a long field goal attempt that gave the Talons good field position.
On the ensuing Talon drive, Matt Marcorelle's second sack of the night forced San Antonio into a third and 17 from the Sharks' 20-yard line. But back-to-back defensive penalties gave the Talons a pair of automatic first downs, and Xavier Lee finished the job with a one-yard touchdown run for what proved to be the game's final score.
Ultimately, Saturday's game proved to be a contest between two teams that were unable to find a consistent offensive rhythm. In the middle of the game, San Antonio went nearly two full quarters without scoring thanks to a dominant stretch from the Sharks' defense. Jerry Turner sacked Hill twice on the Talons' first possession of the second half, allowing Turner to reclaim the League lead with seven sacks this season. Earlier, Terrance Smith and Tracy Belton each pulled in interceptions for the Sharks, while Aaron Robbins and Justin Parrish split a sack to go along with the two recorded by both Turner and Marcorelle. Robbins also recovered a fumble on Marcorelle's first sack of the night.
But despite the momentum generated by the defense, Morris and the Sharks' offense were not able to produce on a consistent basis. The Sharks did not score until their third possession of the game, as Talon Jack linebacker Jamar Ransom intercepted Morris on the opening drive, and the Talons forced a four-and-out the next time the Sharks had the ball. Jacksonville did find a rhythm late in the first quarter and into the second. Filling in at fullback in place of Rendrick Taylor, Parrish and Marcorelle each scored a rushing touchdown, while Morris found Harvey from five yards out to give the Sharks a 20-14 lead with 5:14 left in the first half.
In the third quarter, Morris sprinted to the end zone on a 16-yard scramble to put the Sharks ahead, 27-14. But from there, the tide turned as San Antonio scored 20 of the game's final 23 points.
For the game, Morris completed 22 of his 37 passes for 219 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He also led the Sharks with 28 rushing yards on his four carries. Jeff Hughley led the Jacksonville receiving corps with nine catches for 105 yards, while Harvey totaled 60 yards and a touchdown on his six grabs. Markee White added six receptions of his own for 50 yards, but was held out of the end zone for the first time this season.
Going up against a Talon pass rush that entered the weekend second in the league in sacks, the Shark offensive line did not allow a sack on Saturday. Notably, Thomas Claiborne saw his first action of the season, handling most of the pass-protection duties at fullback before giving way to Parrish and Marcorelle in rushing situations.
On defense, Jamaal Fudge led the Sharks with seven total tackles (two solo), while Smith added six (four solo). Marcorelle, Turner, Parrish and Robbins each logged two tackles for loss, while Micheaux Robinson notched the team's only pass breakup.
For San Antonio, Hill finished 23-of-35 for 264 yards and four touchdowns against two picks. Stephens led all players with 128 yards and three touchdowns on his nine catches. Lee caught eight passes for 89 yards and a score, while former Shark Jomo Wilson chipped in with six grabs for 47 yards. Ransom collected each of the Talons' two interceptions, while Andre Jones led all players with 7.5 total tackles (six solo) and added three pass breakups.
The Sharks will look to snap this two-game skid when the team returns to Sea Best Field next weekend, hosting the San Jose SaberCats on Saturday, May 18. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m., and as part of Military Appreciation Night, all active and retired military personnel and their families are eligible for Buy One, Get One Free tickets with the presentation of a valid military ID at the arena box office.
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