Sharks Struggle in New York 62-29
ALBANY, NY - The Sharks flew to Albany, NY to face their week 5 opponent the defending champion Albany Empire. Jacksonville entered a hostile MVP arena on a Sunday night in New York. The Empire were the first to strike tonight with a passing touchdown from Sam Castronova to receiver Darius Prince and the extra point Albany up 7-0. The Sharks struggled in the first quarter as the opening drive started successfully as Jacksonville quickly found the red zone but ended the drive with an interception by defensive back Dwayne Hollis. Luckily, the Sharks defense kept the Empire at bay as they forced a turnover on downs and one drive later defensive back Kenny Veal got to work early with a 1st quarter fumble recovery to give the Sharks the ball back. However the deed did not see points scored as the Sharks suffered back to back turnover on downs failing on both 4th down attempts. The Sharks ended the 1st quarter down 7-0 and the Empire entered the 2nd quarter with a second touchdown reception by receiver Darius Prince who caught Castronova’s pass in the corner end zone.
The Sharks scoring drought ended early in the second quarter as Sharks leading passer Malik Henry launched a deep touchdown pass to receiver Clifton Duck to get the Sharks on the board 14-7. Albany counter attacked with a quick score on 1st down with a receiving touchdown this time from receiver Marquel Wade that was followed by a deuce by Empire kicker Marc Orozco extending the Albany lead 23-7. From there it was a back and forth fight the Sharks answered with another bomb from Malik Henry that soared across the field to reciever Nyqwan Murray for the touchdown reception with the extra point from kicker Cody Barber the Sharks narrowed the Empire lead to 23-14, Barber ended the half with a perfect 2/2 on extra points. A huge turning point in the game came from a near touchdown by the Empire that turned into a Devin Wilson interception shutting down the Empire attempt to stretch the lead at the half.
Into the second half, Albany opened with a deuce to put the score up 25-14 which was followed by a spoiled Jacksonville drive that ended with an interception in the endzone by Empire defensive back Kenneth McGruder bringing Sharks quarterback Malik Henry to double interceptions on the night. The Empire kept their foot on the pedal as quarterback Sam Castronova threw a third touchdown pass to receiver Darius Prince pinning Jacksonville 32-14 with desperate need to get back in the game Sharks backup quarterback Damion May strapped up and took the field for his debut. His first drive got the Sharks down field and a end zone pass to Devin Wilson would have delivered May his first passing touchdown as a Shark but the Wilson catch was overturned to an incomplete pass and a fumbled snap foiled May’s 1st drive.
The Empire offense led by Prince continued their routine in the third quarter as Prince caught his fourth touchdown pass against the Sharks putting the score to 39-14 and it didn’t end there the Empire’s kicker knocked down his third deuce putting the game to 41-14 into the fourth quarter. Quarterback Damion May bounced back on his second drive with an impressive passing touchdown to receiver Nyqwan Murray which the Sharks added a successful two point conversion to cut the lead within 19 points. Albany’s quarterback Castronova continued to light up the score board hitting receiver Marquel Wade for his second touchdown while kicker Marc Orozco added another deuce bleeding the score to 43-22. The Sharks and Empire exchanged back to back scoring drives including a 20-yard receiving touchdown from Sharks quarterback Damion May to receiver Miles Kelly to bring the score to 50-29 with the Sharks down three scores before Empire’s star receiver Darius Prince scored his fifth touchdown of the night puting Albany up 56-29 with 2:30 left in the game. The final nail in the coffin for this game was a second fumble snap by Jacksonville’s Damion May that was scooped up by Empire Lineman Cornelius Lewis for the fumble recovery touchdown ending the night 63-29 the Sharks largest loss of the season.
The story of the night for the Sharks was too much adversity to forge a comeback as Sharks suffered injuries, a number of costly penalties, turnovers, and defense that played lights out in week 4 but did not see the same results in week 5 surrendering 62 points tonight. Offensively the Sharks could not find their stride as they suffered two scoreless quarters and posted their lowest scoring game of the season with 29 points all coming from the air as quarterback Malik Henry scored two touchdowns and quarterback Damion May recorded two as well. Henry did share some difficult turnovers including two interceptions before he left the game with a hand injury. May did not have issues with interceptions but did have some costly turnovers particularly two fumbles including one that led to an Empire return for a score. Sharks that did find success tonight included receiver Nyqwan Murray who caught five passes for 99 yards and two receiving touchdowns. On the other side of the ball the Sharks sank a season-high 62 points allowed. However, Sharks defensive back Kenny Veal and Sharks WR/DB Devin Wilson both gained interceptions tonight and each led the team with six tackles each. Veal now has his is fourth-straight game with at least one interception and handed the Sharks their only forced fumble of the night and fumble recovery. The Sharks (1-4) hit the road again next week to face the Carolina Cobras (5-0) in a Greensboro rematch Saturday, May 30 with kickoff at 7pm.
About the Jacksonville Sharks
The Jacksonville Sharks are members of the National Arena League (NAL). The 2019 & 2017 NAL Champions and ArenaBowl XXIV Champions play all their home games at the Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena. Sharks Nation Memberships for the 2022 season are now available. To become a Shark Nation member or for more information please call (904) 621-0700. Follow the Sharks on Facebook at facebook.com/jaxsharks and on Twitter and Instagram @jaxsharks, as well as the Attack Dance Team at facebook.com/sharkattackdance and Chum at facebook.com/chumsharks.