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STORM DOWNGRADED TO DEPRESSION, SHARKS CLINCH DIVISION

Saturday’s matchup featured part two of the in-state rivalry between the Jacksonville Sharks and the Tampa Bay Storm. The Storm traveled up to Jacksonville to take on the Sharks for the contest, riding what appeared to be a late season surge, winning 4 of the last 5 games. However, Jacksonville looked to continue their winning ways, carrying a 12 game win streak (tied for the longest in AFL history) into the game. Tampa Bay took the opening drive down the field, and into the Jacksonville end-zone for the first score of the game with a pass from Brian Zbydniewski to Hank Edwards. The Sharks showed no signs of intimidation, scoring on the opening play with a 35 yard touchdown pass from Aaron Garcia to Jeff Hughley. The two teams exchanged scores back to back, to keep the game tied at 14. The Storm managed to juke out the Jacksonville defense once more at the end of the quarter with another pass from Zbydniewski to Jackson.

The Sharks first play of the second quarter was a touchdown pass from Garcia to Jamarko Simmons for the second time in the evening. The scoring exchange finally stopped when Jacksonville stopped Tampa Bay on fourth down with Micheaux Robinson breaking up the pass intended for Amaari Jackson. The Sharks capitalized with Jeff Hughley’s second touchdown reception of the evening to make the score 27- 21, with the Sharks leading. The Storm managed to drive the ball down into the red-zone, but Micheaux Robinson intercepted Zbydniewski in the end-zone before they managed to put points on the board. The Sharks took advantage of the opportunity, with the Garcia to Jomo Wilson connection for the 34th time of the season. The Storm managed to end their drought with a 30 yard touchdown pass from Zbydniewski to Jackson. A failed onside kick by Tampa Bay gave Jacksonville the ball at the Tampa 5 yard line. Jacksonville ended the first half with a Marco Capozzolli field goal, to make the score 37-28.

Aaron Garcia and Jeff Hughley took control at the beginning of the third quarter. They hooked up three times as they traveled down the field and eventually into the end-zone to put the Sharks ahead 43-28. On Tampa Bay’s next possession LaRoche Jackson managed to strip and recover a fumble to give the Sharks the ball at their own 24 yard line. The Sharks scored four plays later with Garcia’s fourth touchdown pass of the evening to Jeff Hughley. The Jacksonville defense played a lights out series, resulting in a safety by Aaron Robbins and Justin Parrish to give the Sharks a 24 point lead. One play later the Sharks were in the end-zone again, with Jeff Hughley’s fifth touchdown reception of the night. The Storm showed signs of life towards the end of the third quarter with touchdown pass from Zbydniewski to Hank Edwards.

The Sharks continued rolling into the fourth quarter, with an immediate touchdown pass from Garcia to Hughley, his sixth of the evening. Garcia’s completion also set the AFL record for Most Career Completions (3866). The Storm managed to piece together another touchdown drive, which was followed by a successful onside kick. Capped off by a Derrick Summers sack, the Sharks managed to stop the Storm on fourth down and gain control of the ball to wind down the clock and wrap up the game at 66-41, Sharks victory.

The win over Tampa Bay was the Shark’s 13th consecutive win, which set a new AFL record for a single season. The Sharks completely revised the record books thanks to especially huge performances from Aaron Garcia and Jeff Hughley. Garcia threw for 288 yards and 9 touchdowns, all while setting the all-time completions record (3866). Garcia’s key receiver, Jeff Hughley, had a juggernaut performance totaling 13 receptions for 322 all-purpose yards and 6 touchdowns, all of which are Sharks’ team records. The 13th consecutive victory placed this year’s Sharks team in the history books. With the South Division in hands, and the number one seed in the playoffs locked up, the Sharks have only one mission left. To win the championship.

Offensive Player of the Game: Jeff Hughley (JAX)
Defensive Player of the Game: Micheaux Robinson (JAX)
Ironman of the Game: Jeff Hughley (JAX)
Playmaker of the Game: Jeff Hughley (JAX)
Catch of the Game: Jeff Hughley's TD reception giving Aaron Garcia a new AFL record
Highlight of the Game: Garcia's record-breaking TD pass


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