Sharks fall to Tampa Bay; 63-28
The loss is the 5th in six games for the Sharks
TAMPA – The Jacksonville Sharks gave up three touchdowns in the final 2:02 of the first half on Saturday night, and could not recover from that Tampa Bay Storm surge, falling by a 63-28 count at Amalie Arena.
The complexion of the game turned in the final minutes of the second quarter, following a touchdown pass from Tommy Grady to Joe Hills that put Jacksonville (1-5) ahead, 14-7. On the second play of the ensuing Tampa Bay (3-3) drive, T.T. Toliver got behind the Jacksonville defense, pulling in a 38-yard pass from Jason Boltus to tie the game at 14 with just over two minutes remaining in the half. The Sharks were unable to handle the ensuing kickoff, as the Storm's Rick-J Hill recovered the loose ball in the end zone, giving Tampa Bay a 21-14 lead.
At that point, the Sharks still had a chance to stay in the game, as the offense had nearly a minute to work with before halftime and was set to get the ball to open the third quarter. But with 30 seconds remaining in the half, James Harrell intercepted a Grady pass and returned it into Shark territory. The Jacksonville defense made a stand, forcing Tampa Bay into a fourth and goal situation, but Boltus found Toliver on the final play of the first half to give the Storm a two-score lead at the break.
Beginning the third quarter with the football, Jacksonville had an opportunity to close the gap. But the Sharks were unable to convert in the red zone, as Tampa Bay flushed Grady from the pocket on fourth down, leading to a rushed throw that fell incomplete. The Storm took over and turned that stop into a score, as Boltus and Toliver connected for a third time, as the four-yard touchdown pass helped put Tampa Bay on top, 35-14.
From there, the Sharks were unable to get any closer than that 21-point margin. While Grady connected with Tiger Jones on a short touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter, the Storm forced stops on each of the Sharks' remaining possessions. For the Tampa Bay offense, Boltus continued to find the end zone in the second half, as he scrambled for a three-yard touchdown late in the third quarter and found Toliver and Kendrick Ings for scores in the fourth.
The Sharks were unable to take advantage of a fast defensive start. On the game's opening possession, pressure from Joe Sykes forced a rushed fourth-down throw, leading to a turnover on downs. After Grady hit Jones for a 40-yard touchdown on the Sharks' first offensive snap, Demarcus Robinson gave his team the ball back by undercutting a route and hauling in his first interception in a Jacksonville uniform. But the Sharks did not take advantage, as Jacksonville never led by more than seven points before Tampa Bay went on its second-quarter run.
For the Sharks, Grady completed 20 of his 36 pass attempts, throwing for 235 yards and three touchdowns against two interceptions. In a losing effort, Jones led Jacksonville with 122 yards and two scores on his eight receptions, extending his season-opening streak to six consecutive 100-yard games. Jeron Harvey totaled 10 catches for 104 yards, while Hills caught two passes for 17 yards before being ejected in the second quarter. On the ground, Derrick Ross carried the ball five times for 24 yards and a touchdown.
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