03/16/2012 9:30 PM - By Jack Morbitzer, JaxSharks.com
The Jacksonville Sharks (1-0) overcame a quick start by the Kansas City Command (0-1), rattling off 38-unaswered points in the second half in a 52-28 victory on the road in front of 5,161 at Sprint Center to open the 2012 season.
The Sharks trailed 21-17 to start the second half before a more than 10 minute touchdown drive ended with a one-yard touchdown run by Terrance Smith. The undisciplined Command committed illegal defense, personal foul and illegal formation penalties to give Jacksonville automatic first downs each time and keep the drive alive.
From there it was all Sharks, as the Command's first play in the second half was a completed pass that was fumbled and recovered by Sharks' defensive back LaRoche Jackson. The Kansas City defense recorded two sacks on the ensuing drive, but Chris Leak completed a 30-yard touchdown pass to Shamar Graves on 4th-and-26 for his second score of the night to increase the lead to 30-21.
The kickoff that opened the fourth quarter was fumbled into the end zone after a huge hit by the Sharks' coverage team and recovered by Kansas City for a safety. The Sharks' Jeron Harvey then caught his first touchdown of the season from nine yards out and the rout was on. Harvey scored again on the Sharks' next drive pushing the score to 45-21 with 8:22 remaining.
Not to be outdone, the Sharks' defense got on the board as Bill Alford returned an interception 40 yards for a touchdown to cap Jacksonville's 38-consecutive point run. Kansas City finally scored on a 1-yard rush by quarterback Steven Gachette, who replaced starter Nate Davis after the interception.
Leak finished 21-for-31 for 196 yards, five touchdowns and one interception for the Sharks. Harvey was the leading receiver with 10 receptions for 78 yards and two touchdowns. Graves also recorded two touchdown catches and Smith had receiving and rushing touchdowns.
Kansas City came out fast, scoring on the second play from scrimmage on a 36-yard pass from Davis to Christian Wise. Jacksonville responded with an 8-yard score from Leak to Graves to tie the game at 7-7. The Command scored again on their second play of their second drive to lead 14-7, before intercepting Leak in the red zone on the ensuing drive.
The Command led early but 12 penalties for 70 yards - three on the Sharks' long third quarter drive, put Kansas City in a bad position to hold the lead. Conversely, Jacksonville committed just two penalties for eight yards while possessing the ball for 37:27 of total game time.
The Sharks take to the field again at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 24 for their home opener at Sea Best field against the Georgia Force. It will be Championship Pride Night as the Sharks raise the banner commemorating their ArenaBowl XXIV victory.
The Jacksonville Sharks are members of the Arena Football League (AFL). The ArenaBowl XXIV and back-to-back South Division Champions are presented by Sea Best Seafood and play all home games on Sea Best Field at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. Season Tickets for the 2012 season are now available, two tickets as low as $135. To reserve your season tickets or for more information, please call (904) 621-0700. Follow the Sharks on facebook at facebook.com/jaxsharks and on Twitter @jaxsharks, as well as the Attack Dance Team at facebook.com/sharkattackdance.