06/21/2014 10:57 PM
NEW ORLEANS – With a dominant defensive effort, the Jacksonville Sharks shut out the New Orleans VooDoo in both the first and third quarters on Saturday, leading to the Sharks’ 54-13 victory at Smoothie King Center.
Jacksonville (5-8) set the tone from the opening snap, forcing New Orleans (2-11) to turn the ball over on downs of each of the VooDoo’s first two offensive possessions. The Sharks went on to shut out the VooDoo in both the first and third quarters, establishing a new franchise record for fewest points allowed in a single game, breaking the mark of 19 set against the Iowa Barnstormers during the 2012 season.
The Sharks’ offense used those early stops to take a 13-0 lead, as fullback Jared McGriff-Culver and quarterback R.J. Archer recorded rushing touchdowns on Jacksonville’s first two drives. Though New Orleans battled back with a field goal, a defensive stop and a long touchdown pass from Adam Kennedy to Courtney Jones, Jacksonville regained a two-score lead in the final stages of the first half.
Getting the ball with a 13-10 edge and 45 seconds remaining in the half, Archer moved the ball down the field with a pair of completions to Maurice Williams. At that point, Terrance Smith checked into the game at wideout and was on the receiving end of Archer’s first touchdown pass of the game. The 12-yard score gave the Sharks a 20-10 lead at halftime.
Jacksonville was then able to turn around and score on the first drive of the third quarter, as Archer connected with Smith from 11 yards out. With a three-score lead in hand, the Sharks’ defense asserted itself again, sacking Kennedy on both third and fourth down to force yet another turnover on downs. The Sharks needed just two plays to convert that stop into a score, as Archer hit Maurice Dupree for a 20-yard gain before McGriff-Culver took it in from two yards out.
The Sharks broke the game open even further before the end of the third quarter, as a mishandled snap spun wildly back into the end zone. Charlie Hunt sprinted from his Jack linebacker spot, beating the VooDoo offense to the ball and gathering it for a defensive touchdown, putting the Sharks up by a 39-10 count.
As the third quarter came to a close, the Sharks’ front four again recorded a pair of sacks en route to a turnover on downs. This time, it was Aaron Robbins on second down and James McClinton on fourth that took down Kennedy. On the second play of the ensuing drive, Archer hit Jomo Wilson for a touchdown pass that made the score 46-10.
Though New Orleans responded with a field goal, McGriff-Culver then accounted for a scoring drive by himself, taking it 19 yards on three carries that ended with his third touchdown of the night. His score extended the Sharks’ lead to 52-13, setting the stage for the defense’s final exclamation point.
On the VooDoo’s last drive of the game, defensive end Jerry Turner beat his blocker and hammered New Orleans quarterback Brian Hudson from the front side, taking him down in the end zone for a sack. The safety proved to be the game’s final score, as the Sharks cruised to a 41-point victory.
Archer piloted the Sharks’ offense to the tune of a 15-for-27 night, totaling 173 yards and three touchdowns to go along with his rushing score. McGriff-Culver racked up 27 yards and three touchdowns on his nine carries, while Wilson led the team with seven receptions for 59 yards and a score.
On defense, each member of the Sharks’ front four got on board with at least one sack, as McClinton and Justin Parrish each racked up multiple sacks in the game. Hunt led the Jacksonville defense with seven solo tackles to go along with his fumble recovery touchdown.
For New Orleans, Kennedy completed 11 of his 21 passes for 116 yards and a touchdown. Smith led New Orleans with four receptions for 61 yards and the VooDoo’s only offensive touchdown. Cameron McGlenn led all players with 8.5 total tackles.
The Sharks will return to Jacksonville to square off against the Pittsburgh Power on Saturday, June 28. Kickoff on Sea Best Field at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena is set for 7:00 p.m.
Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Game - Jacksonville QB R.J. Archer
Riddell Defensive Player of the Game - Jacksonville DL Justin Parrish
J. Lewis Small Playmaker of the Game - Jacksonville FB Jared McGriff-Culver
Cutters Catch of the Game - New Orleans WR Courtney Smith's 42-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter
AFL Highlight of the Game - New Orleans WR Courtney Smith's 42-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter
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 2015 season are now available, two tickets for as low as $99. To purchase 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.
About the AFL
Since its inception in 1987, the Arena Football League has showcased a fast-paced and exciting game to millions of fans in a myriad of markets across the country. The ESPN family of networks and CBS Sports Network will nationally broadcast AFL games each week for the entire season. The AFL schedule then culminates with the ArenaBowl Championship game live on ESPN.