04/27/2016 9:03 AM
Photo By: Mary Trembly
JACKSONVILLE - The Jacksonville Sharks head to Florida’s Gulf Coast this weekend for a matchup with the in-state rival Tampa Bay Storm on Sunday, May 1. Kickoff from Amalie Arena is set for 2 p.m.
Sunday’s game will be the first of three meetings between Jacksonville (1-3) and Tampa Bay (0-3). This is a crucial game for both teams as they try to come back after tough losses to this point in the season.
The Sharks travel to Tampa Bay after loss in an overtime thriller against the Arizona Rattlers last Saturday night. The two teams traded scores the whole night before the Sharks were unable to answer an Arizona touchdown in overtime.
The wide receiver trio of Joe Hills, Tiger Jones and Roger Jackson continue to dominate defenses. Hills took off for four touchdowns in the day with three scores coming in the second half. Jones led the trio with 149 receiving yards and three scores, while Jackson made his own contribution, recording 94 yards and a score. Tommy Grady threw 28-for-45 with 340 yards and eight touchdowns with his lone interception coming on a fourth-down pass on the game’s final play. Derrick Ross also punched in two touchdowns and racked up a season-high total of 44 yards. The offense was largely efficient, but was ultimately unable to outdo the Rattlers’ output.
The Sharks’ defense chipped in against the Rattlers as well, as LaRoche Jackson recorded the first two interceptions that Arizona’s Nick Davila has thrown this season. Greg Reid totaled nine tackles and now leads the league with 33 stops. One key this week will be improving third-down defense, as the Sharks did not stop Arizona on seven third-down opportunities.
Jacksonville’s special teams unit put together a somewhat inconsistent performance. Marco Capozzoli went 8-for-10 on extra-point attempts, but missed a crucial PAT with 35 seconds left which would have been the game winner had he made it. David Hyland returned six kicks for 96 yards, but fumbled the football on a return in the fourth. The Sharks will need to convert on special teams to get back on the winning track.
If the Sharks hope to rebound this week, they will have to do so against a rested Tampa Bay squad, as the Storm return to Amalie Arena following a bye in Week 4.
The Storm have struggled on offensive this season, only averaging 27 points per contest. Tampa Bay has had three quarterbacks play significant snaps, and the Storm have converted just 5-of-21 third downs and 3-of-10 fourth downs. The team hopes to get a boost from the addition of Mike Washington, who joins to the Storm after a trade with the Arizona Rattlers. Washington has averaged 106 catches and 1,320 yards per season in his AFL career.
The Tampa Bay defense also looks to improve after a slow start. The Storm have yielded 59 points per game, and Tampa Bay’s defensive line has not recorded a sack thus far this season. It will be a tough task for the Storm’s pass rush this week, as Jacksonville has allowed just one sack through four games. The Storm defense has also only recorded four total turnovers - three fumbles and one interception – to this point in 2016.
This week is an opportunity for the Sharks to get back on track, but Jacksonville must execute in all three faces for the full sixty minutes. The action starts at 2:00 on Sunday afternoon, as the game will be available to stream watch live via ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app.
About the Jacksonville Sharks
The Jacksonville Sharks are members of the Arena Football League (AFL). The ArenaBowl XXIV and four-time 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 2016 season are now available, two tickets as low as $99. 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 and Chum at facebook.com/chumsharks.