JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Sharks broke the game open with 35 consecutive points on Friday and never looked back, shutting down the Las Vegas Outlaws to the tune of a 60-28 victory in front of 9,682 on Sea Best Field at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.
Jacksonville (1-4) trailed 14-7 early in the second quarter before changing the complexion of the game with a series of defensive stops and quick scores. After Tommy Grady hit Tiger Jones on a Scooter Berry stripped the ball from Las Vegas (2-2) fullback Joe Mortensen, forcing a fumble that Alvin Ray Jackson recovered. On the ensuing drive, Grady again found Jones in the end zone, as the second of their three touchdown connections gave the Sharks their first lead, 21-14, with 50 seconds remaining in the first half.
Jacksonville then gained an extra possession on special teams, as Julian Rauch executed a slow-roll onside kick that Jimmy Gordon came away with following an extended scramble for the ball. Five plays later, Grady hit Jeron Harvey for a 10-yard catch-and-run touchdown that put the Sharks on top by two scores, 28-14.
On the very first play of Las Vegas' next drive, Joe Sykes slammed Outlaw quarterback J.J. Raterink from behind, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Nicolas Jean-Baptiste. It only took one play for the Sharks to cash in, as Grady found Jones for a 15-yard score, capping an avalanche of 21 points in a 48-second span that allowed the Sharks to take command of the game.
Up 35-14 at halftime, the Sharks extended that lead by opening the third quarter with a score, as Joe Hills pulled in a one-handed grab for an 18-yard touchdown on the first drive of the second half. Though Las Vegas' Gerald Young ended the Sharks' 35-0 run with a kickoff return touchdown, the Sharks still led 42-21 at that point, and Las Vegas never came closer than that 21-point margin.
The Jacksonville defense continued to bring the intensity in the second half, as Jackson hauled in diving interception off of a tipped pass, and Sykes brought down backup quarterback Sean Brackett for a safety early in the fourth quarter. On offense, fullback Ross got in on the action with a two-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter, while Hills capped a 12-catch night with his third touchdown of the game with nine minutes remaining in the contest.
Grady was efficient under center throughout, as the Sharks scored a touchdown on each of their first six offensive possessions. He completed 23 of his 31 pass attempts for 262 yards and seven touchdowns without throwing an interception. Hills totaled 12 catches for 113 yards and three scores, while Jones led all players with 130 yards, adding three touchdowns on his 10 catches. Jones has now gone over the 100-yard mark in each of the Sharks' first five games. On the ground, Ross rushed for a season-high 47 yards and a touchdown on eight carries.