by Cole Pepper
For nearly a half of football, it looked like the Jacksonville Sharks had things in reverse. Facing a Pittsburgh team they had dispatched 61-35 in week two, the Sharks led 21-20 with 3:21 remaining in the second quarter after a missed Pittsburgh extra point. Then, the spark.
Facing 4th and 10 from the Sharks 17-yard line with :53 remaining in the half, Jacksonville quarterback Bernard Morris connected with Jeron Harvey for 11 yards and a first down.
Four plays later, Morris’ pass caromed off of the horizontal ball at the bottom of the net standard, shot directly down where Harvey juggled and caught it for a touchdown with :06 remaining in the half.
The Sharks led 28-20 at the break. Two Pittsburgh turnovers in the third quarter ignited a Jacksonville victory. The Sharks outscored Pittsburgh 14-0 in the third quarter and cruised to a 70-48 victory to improve to 8-3 on the season, maintaining the best record in the conference with seven games remaining.
For the game, Morris completed 18 of 34 passes for 249 yards, 5 touchdowns and one interception. Harvey led Jacksonville receivers with eight catches for 122 yards and four touchdowns.
Here’s what we learned: When the Sharks play at or near their best, they are one of the best teams in the AFL, certainly capable of contending for a championship. When they aren’t at their best, they can still beat lesser teams. In the first half, Jacksonville committed eight penalties, many of them, of the sort that drive coaches crazy. Poorly times, thoughtless penalties. But they settled down and played much more engaged football in the second half, committing only four penalties and winning the turnover battle four to one.
Jacksonville, on a pace to break the Arena League record for sacks, only got to Power quarterback Steven Sheffield once, largely due to Pittsburgh’s game plan which featured almost entirely short passes. The Sharks now have 30 sacks on the year, most in the AFL. The record is 42.
The Sharks, who lead the league in rushing, out gained Pittsburgh 59-20, and scored five touchdowns on the ground. Jacksonville reached the 70 point plateau for the second time this year.
Coming up: The Sharks now go on the road for a pair of games out west. They’ll face Spokane and Utah before returning to SeaBest Field at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena to face Cleveland on June 22.