05/12/2012 11:47 PM - PHILADELPHIA – The Jacksonville Sharks used three key turnovers to stay within a score of the Philadelphia Soul in the first half, but the Soul turned the tide in the game’s final 30 minutes, pulling away in what was ultimately a 56-38 final at Wells Fargo Center on Saturday night.
Jacksonville trailed 21-17 at halftime, and received the opening kickoff of the third quarter with a chance to take their first lead of the game. But Philadelphia’s defense forced a turnover on downs in a goal-to-go situation, the first of several second-half stops for the Soul defense.
Philadelphia quarterback Dan Raudabaugh played mistake-free football in that second half, connecting on a long touchdown passes to both Tiger Jones and Jeff Hughley to extend the Soul lead. Raudabaugh finished the game 20-of-26 passing for 308 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions. Hughley led the Soul’s receiving corps with seven catches for 121 yards and three scores.
All three of Raudabaugh’s interceptions came in the first half, as the Shark defense played opportunistic football in the half. Bill Alford notched the Sharks’ first interception on the Soul’s second drive of the game, and then linebacker Charlie Hunt used great anticipation to step in front of a Raudabaugh pass in the second quarter.
The Sharks’ best defensive play came just before halftime, when Raudabaugh looked for Hughley at the goal line. Up against the wall, Daylan Walker batted the ball out of Hughley’s hands, played it off the boards and corralled the interception. Walker then returned it into Philadelphia territory to set up Marco Capozzoli’s field goal just before halftime.
However, the Shark offense fell victim to turnovers as well. Quarterback Bernard Morris was intercepted four times, including twice when the Sharks had the ball in the red zone. Morris’ final pick came when the Sharks trailed by two scores, effectively sealing the game with a few minutes left.
Morris finished 20-for-28 for 317 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions. Morris also ran for a season-high 38 yards on five carries. Bobby Sewall led the Sharks with eight catches, while Shamar Graves racked up a team-high 126 receiving yards and scored a pair of touchdowns. In particular, Graves showed relentless effort in the final minute, catching a pass at his own 23 yard line, then busting through three Soul defenders before breaking more tackles on his way to the end zone.
The loss drops the Sharks to 3-5, a game and a half behind the Georgia Force and Tampa Bay Storm, as both of those teams sit at 5-4 following the Force’s Saturday night win over the Storm.
The Sharks return home next Saturday to host the Iowa Barnstormers on Sea Best Field at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. Next Saturday will be Military Appreciation Night, as the Sharks will hold a postgame jersey auction to benefit the Armed Forces Families Foundation. Kickoff for next Saturday’s contest is set for 7:00 p.m.
About the Jacksonville Sharks
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 $87. 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.