05/13/2011 11:09 PM -
The Jacksonville Sharks celebrated Military Appreciation Night on Friday, March 13th, when the Sharks hosted the Iowa Barnstormers in the first ever matchup between the two franchises. The Barnstormers came into Jacksonville with the 3rd ranked scoring and passing offense, but a battered passing defense that was exposed in previous weeks. Iowa looked to keep the leagues top two scorers razor sharp against Jacksonvilles 14th ranked defense.
The Sharks managed to set the pace quickly after scoring in a 3 play drive that resulted in Jomo Wilsons 20th touchdown reception of the year. The Barnstormers managed to answer back after a tough fought drive that Iowa managed to score on a Brad Banks pass to Jesse Schmidt. Jeff Hughley helped spark the next drive for the sharks with an intense 42 yard kickoff return, that set up a 15 touchdown pass from Aaron Garcia to Sale Key. After stopping Iowa on fourth down, the Sharks scored on the next play with a touchdown pass from Aaron Garcia to Sale Key, his second of the night. The Sharks defense remained dominant with a Charlie Hunt interception that led to a Jomo Wilson touchdown reception, and on the next series, Terrance Smith returned an interception for his third defensive score of the season giving the Sharks their biggest first quarter lead in history 35-7.
Iowa began the second quarter with possession, but the Sharks managed to get their second fourth down stop of the night. The next possession for the Sharks led to the first rushing touchdown of the night for Kirby Griffin. LaRoche Jackson stuck yet another dagger into the Iowa offense when he intercepted Brad Banks for the fourth time in the evening. The Sharks response was quick and swift, with a touchdown pass to Jeron Harvey, his first of the evening. Iowas backup quarterback, Bryan Lee-Lauduski came in for Brad Banks in the next series. His first series had a similar result top the previous Iowa possessions, resulting in Terrance Smiths second interception of the night. The turnovers continued during Jacksonvilles next possession when Garcia threw his first interception of the night. Iowa showed a slight sign of life after Lee-Lauduski threw Iowas second touchdown of the night to Jesse Schmidt, which stopped a scoring drought that lasted almost 24 minutes. The Sharks had the last laugh at the end of a very physical half, when Garcia threw his sixth touchdown pass of the night.
The Barnstormers offense attempted to change the course of the game at the beginning of the third quarter, but the interceptions continued with Charlie Hunt getting his second of the night. After getting stopped on fourth down, the Sharks gave possession over the Barnstormers, but the Sharks defense showed no signs of letting up after Ventrell Jenkins took down Lee Lauduski in the endzone for a safety. The Sharks took advantage of the safety and scored on Jeron Harveys second touchdown reception of the evening. Todd Blythe barreled through the Sharks secondary and scored on a pass from Lee-Lauduski. On the first play of the next series, Omar Jacobs completed his second touchdown pass of the season. Jomo Wilson pulled the 40 yard reception in, to put the Sharks ahead 72-20 at the end of the third quarter.
The fourth quarter began with an Iowa offensive score. But Sharks Backup Quarterback Omar Jacobs kept the Jacksonville offense rolling with another touchdown pass to Jeron Harvey, which broke the Sharks all-time scoring record for the third time in the 2011 season. A penalty saved Iowa from LaRoche Jacksons third interception of the night, but Charlie Hunt put the nail in the coffin anyways, getting his third interception of the night. The Sharks drew out the rest of the game with a slow running attack that managed to run out the clock, and sent Jacksonville away with their eighth consecutive victory.
The win in Friday nights game continued the Sharks longest winning streak in franchise history, and propelled the Sharks to an 8-1 record, currently the best in the AFL. The Sharks 56 points in the first half is the most that any team has scored in a half in the 2011 season. The six interceptions in the game is also a new single game record for the Sharks. The Sharks clearly proved that they are the best team in the league, with the dismantling of the Iowa Barnstormers. The next game for the Sharks will be May 21, 2011 against the Georgia Force in Gwinnett, when the Sharks will look for their ninth consecutive victory. The next home game for the Sharks will be June 18, 2011 against the Milwaukee Mustangs, back at Sea Best Field.