04/23/2016 9:09 PM -

Sharks Fall to Rattlers in Overtime Thriller, 75-68

Arizona secures decisive interception on final play



JACKSONVILLE – Sixty minutes were not enough to determine a winner on Saturday night, as the Jacksonville Sharks and Arizona Rattlers entered the extra session tied at 68. After the Rattlers scored a touchdown on the first drive of overtime, Arizona’s Arkeith Brown secured an interception on the game’s final play, as the Sharks fell by a 75-68 count on Sea Best Field.


In what was a one-score game for nearly the entire contest, Jacksonville (1-3) broke a 62-62 deadlock when Tommy Grady hit Joe Hills for a nine-yard touchdown pass with one minute left on the clock. Marco Capozzoli’s point-after attempt missed off the left upright, but Jacksonville still held a 68-62 lead. After the Sharks attempted an onside kick, Arizona’s Mykel Benson powered in for a five-yard rushing touchdown with 23 seconds on the clock. Kenny Spencer’s kick also missed wide left, as the teams were knotted at 68.


On the ensuing kickoff, Jacksonville’s David Hyland fielded the ball off the net and headed up the left side. As he was going to the ground, Hyland lost the handle, and Arizona’s Marquis Floyd recovered the fumble on the Jacksonville five-yard line. At that point, the Rattlers had 18 seconds and two timeouts to work with and a change to win the game in regulation. But on the second play of the drive, Nick Davila’s pass sailed high and bounced off the iron, giving LaRoche Jackson an opportunity to haul in the ricochet for his second interception of the night.


With the game still tied at 68, Jacksonville took over at its own one-yard line with six seconds left in regulation. Tommy Grady completed a pass to Joe Hills, who then executed a designed lateral to Roger Jackson. As Jackson fought for extra yardage, he tripped and fumbled. Arizona’s Kerry Reed picked up the loose ball and ran it back to the Jacksonville eight-yard line before the Sharks forced him into the wall. When the dust settled, time had expired and the teams headed into the overtime period.


In what was the first-ever overtime game at Sea Best Field and just the second that the Sharks have played in six-plus season’s, Jacksonville won the coin toss and elected to kick. Getting the first drive of the extra session, Arizona marched down the field and scored on an eight-yard pass form Davila to Maurice Purify. Davila’s eighth touchdown of the game gave the Rattlers a 75-68 lead, but the Sharks had a chance to respond.


At that point, the Sharks’ offense knew that it would win the game with a touchdown and a two-point conversion. Hyland got his team set up in good position with a kickoff return out to the 19-yardline, but after a two-yard run by Derrick Ross and back-to-back incompletions, Jacksonville faced a fourth-and-eight from its own 21. Grady looked for Tiger Jones beyond the sticks, but the pass went high and into the arms of Brown, who hauled in his third interception to seal the game.


Saturday’s game was back-and-forth throughout, as Arizona briefly held the game’s only two score lead. After trading touchdowns into the second quarter, the Rattlers forced a turnover on downs while up 27-20. A few plays later, Davila connected with Purify to give Arizona a 14-point lead with 18 seconds left in the half.


But the Sharks efficiently erased that two-score deficit. Grady closed the first half by hitting Hills for a four-yard touchdown as time expired, and Roger Jackson hauled in a 35-yard score on the opening play of the third quarter. Jackson’s score tied the game at 34. On Arizona’s next drive, LaRoche Jackson made a diving interception just shy of the goal line, forcing the Sharks’ first defensive stop of the night. Two plays later, Derrick Ross took a handoff around the left corner and used a great block by Jones to get to the edge and race 33 yards for a touchdown. At that point, the Sharks led 41-34, and the teams exchanged scores into the final minute of the game.


In the loss, Grady completed 28 of his 45 pass attempts, throwing for 340 yards and eight touchdowns against one pick. Jones racked up 153 yards and three touchdowns on 12 catches, while Hills scored four times and Jackson totaled 94 yards and a score. On the ground, Ross racked up 44 yards and two scores on seven carries.


On defense, Reid led the Sharks with nine tackles and two pass breakups, while LaRoche Jackson totaled six stops to go along with his two interceptions.


For Arizona, Davila went 35-of-50 for 390 yards and eight touchdowns and two interceptions. On the ground, Benson totaled 29 yards and three touchdowns on seven carries. Purify hauled in five touchdown receptions, while Rod Windsor totaled 15 receptions for 165 yards and three scores.


Jacksonville will look to get back on the winning track in Week 5, as the team travels to face the Tampa Bay Storm on Sunday, May 1. Kickoff from Amalie Arena in Tampa is set for 2:00 p.m. ET.