ANAHEIM, Calif. – Holding a six-point lead in the final minute on Sunday, the Jacksonville Sharks needed one final stop and the defense delivered just that, as Greg Reid hauled in an interception on the final play of the game to seal Jacksonville's 41-35 victory at Honda Center.
Jacksonville (5-5) had the ball in Los Angeles (0-9) territory at the one-minute timeout, as the Shark offense had an opportunity to either run out the clock or take a two-touchdown lead. But after an offensive penalty backed the Sharks up to 4th and 16 from the KISS' 21, Julian Rauch's field goal attempt missed wide right. A Los Angeles defender fell on the rebound, giving the KISS a chance to march down the field with 37 seconds left.
With 37 seconds and one timeout to work with, Los Angeles worked the ball down the field. The KISS took their final timeout with the ball at midfield and 16 seconds left in the game. After Danny Southwick tried two deep passes into the end zone, the KISS quarterback then threw a quick pass to Jeffrey Solomon, moving Los Angeles to the Sharks' 20-yard line with three seconds left in the game. As time expired, Southwick fired deep into the end zone yet again, but Reid was there to secure the interception and end the game.
The Sharks had raced out to a quick 21-0 lead in Sunday's game, as Tommy Grady hit Tiger Jones on a 40-yard deep strike for a touchdown on the second play from scrimmage. On just the second play of Los Angeles' first drive, Jack linebacker Alvin Ray Jackson snared an interception and brought it back 25 yards for a score. The Sharks' first defensive touchdown of the season gave Jacksonville a 14-0 lead in the game's first five minutes. After the defense forced a turnover on downs, the Sharks scored again, as Joe Hills battled for a seven-yard touchdown catch that gave his team a three-touchdown edge in the first quarter.
But the KISS battled back, as Los Angeles scored on each of its two second-quarter possessions, cutting the Sharks' lead to 28-14 late in the second quarter. Jacksonville had a chance to score before halftime, but Rauch's 30-yard field goal attempt missed wide right, and the Sharks headed to the locker room with just a 14-point edge.
Los Angeles opened the third quarter with the ball and marched down the field, cutting the Sharks' lead to just seven points after Southwick hit Solomon for a five-yard touchdown. From there, the teams exchanged scores and defensive stops late into the game. The Sharks led 35-28 heading into the final period, as the KISS forced a turnover on each of Jacksonville's first two drives of the fourth quarter. But each time, the Sharks' defense followed with a stop, forcing back-to-back turnovers on downs.
Jacksonville regained a two-touchdown lead with just less than four minutes remaining, as Derrick Ross raced for a 23-yard rushing touchdown, his third of the night. But the KISS responded quickly, as Laron Scott returned the ensuing kickoff into Jacksonville territory and Donovan Morgan caught a touchdown on the first play of the ensuing drive, notching what would be the game's final score with 2:30 left. That Morgan touchdown cut the Sharks' edge to 41-35, setting the stage for the game's conclusion.
In the victory, Grady completed 20 of his 33 pass attempts, throwing for 223 yards and two touchdowns against one interception. Ross broke out with one of his most productive games of the season, toting the rock 11 times for 61 yards and three touchdowns. At receiver, Jones led the Sharks with nine receptions for 122 yards and a score, while Joe Hills caught seven passes for 59 yards and a touchdown.
On defense, Reid led all players with 8.5 total tackles and five pass breakups, recorded a tackle for loss and snared the game-ending interception. Terrance Smith and LaRoche Jackson added three and two pass breakups, respectively. Up front, Joe Sykes notched a pair of sacks, extending his franchise-record streak to nine consecutive games with at least one sack.
For the KISS, Southwick went 27-of-46 for 245 yards and three touchdowns against two interceptions. DeMarco Sampson led Los Angeles with 11 receptions for 104 yards, while Morgan caught 10 passes for 90 yards and two scores. On defense, Rayshaun Kizer made an impact in his first game with the KISS, recording team-high totals of eight tackles and two pass breakups.
Victory in hand, the Sharks will return to Jacksonville, preparing to host the Orlando Predators on Saturday, June 6. Kickoff on Sea Best Field is set for 7:00 p.m.