JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Jacksonville Sharks defeated the Tampa Bay Storm, 42-35, in the team's preseason scrimmage Sunday afternoon.
Sharks head coach Les Moss was pleased with the early season effort.
"I thought we played well," Moss said. "I was pleasantly surprised. We played a lot of young guys. The overall effort was excellent in all three phases. The sky is the limit for these guys. I'm really pleased with the way they played."
Sharks rookie fullback Jared McGriff-Culver snapped a 35-35 tie with a four-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter before the Jacksonville defense made a final stop to seal the victory.
With seven minutes left in the game, Storm quarterback Stephen Garcia had trouble with the snap, and Jacksonville defensive lineman Corey Hasting pounced on the loose ball to recover the fumble. On the ensuing play, McGriff-Culver took a toss around the left side and coasted into the end zone to give the Sharks the lead. The Storm had one final possession, moving the ball into Jacksonville territory. But in the final minute, Garcia's fourth-down pass fell incomplete as the Sharks regained possession. McGriff-Culver then finished the game with a short run to burn off the remainder of the clock.
A back-and-forth game throughout, the two teams headed to the halftime break with Tampa Bay on top, 21-20. Tampa Bay opened the game with back-to-back touchdowns, but the Sharks got on the board with a one-yard touchdown run by Shamar Graves early in the second quarter. On the second play of the Storm's next drive, rookie defensive back Kieron Jones charged in to intercept a tipped pass. The Sharks converted that turnover into another score, as quarterback R.J Archer hit Andrew Bodenheimer for an 11-yard touchdown to make the score 14-13.
After another Storm score, the Sharks got on the board in the final stages of the first half. Archer marched the Sharks down the field, finding Willie Carter over the middle for a three-yard touchdown as time expired to end the second quarter. Fabrizio Scaccia drilled the extra point to cut the Sharks' deficit to one at the break.
The third quarter began with the Sharks taking the lead on a safety, as the pocket collapsed around Garcia. After the safety, Kyle Rowley was intercepted on his first pass, leading to a quick Tampa Bay touchdown. But on the Sharks' next possession, Rowley went deep for a 35-yard touchdown pass to Mardy Gilyard that knotted the game at 28.
The teams then traded touchdowns to set up the game's closing situation. After Garcia hit Michael Lindsey for a seven-yard score, Rowley came back with a 23-yard touchdown to Graves along the left sideline, making the game even at 35.
For the Sharks, Archer and Rowley each played a full half at quarterback. Archer completed 12 of his 22 passes for 106 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, while Rowley went 5-of-12 for 66 yards, two touchdowns and a pick. Carter led the Sharks with five catches for 44 yards and a score, while Gilyard totaled 63 yards on his four receptions. Bodenheimer added 34 yards on four receptions, while Graves totaled three catches for 33 yards and Jeremy Kelley pitched in with two catches for five yards.
On defense, Xavier Brewer led all players with 6.5 tackles, while Reggie Paramoure racked up two sacks and Brodrick Brown totaled six pass breakups. In addition to his interception, Jones totaled 3.5 tackles and four pass breakups.
For the Storm, Hippeard went 8-of-21 for 110 yards, three touchdowns and an interception, while Garcia was 7-of-15 for 78 yards and a touchdown. Andrew Helmick led Tampa Bay with three receptions for 65 yards and a touchdown, while Rod Issac and James Harrell led the Storm with 4.5 tackles apiece.
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