Jacksonville Sharks subdue Spokane Shock in final regular season AFL matchup
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Spokane’s road woes continued as the Shock fell to Jacksonville 75-56 Friday at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena to close the Arena Football League regular season.
The Shock (9-9) dropped to 2-7 on the road. Spokane, which clinched a playoff berth with last week’s win over San Jose, visits No. 1 Arizona (15-2) on Friday in the quarterfinals. The teams split during the regular season, with Spokane winning by one at home and losing by 22 in Phoenix.
Spokane didn’t take four starters on the trip – linebacker Beau Bell, fullback Clay Harrell, defensive lineman Jon Williams and offensive lineman Shannon Tevaga. Defensive back Alex Teems suffered a hip pointer midway through the second quarter, forcing Antwan Marsh to move from linebacker to cornerback.
“There’s no depth in arena football,” head coach Rob Keefe said in a postgame radio interview. “We had a lot of guys playing out of position in the second half, but I thought we fought hard. We had guys at home that we rested and we’ll get back and get to work.”
Spokane led 23-20 after Kyle Rowley’s touchdown pass to Adron Tennell with 1 minute left in the second quarter, but the second-ranked Sharks (14-4) controlled the final 60 seconds and the first 12 minutes of the third quarter.
Aaron Garcia tossed two touchdown passes while Spokane settled for a field goal and Rowley was intercepted on the final play as the Sharks led 33-26 at half.
Jacksonville, which snapped a three-game losing streak, kept adding to its lead in the third quarter behind Omar Jacobs, who took over as Garcia rested for next week’s playoff game. After a Rowley fumble, Jacobs hit Jamarko Simmons for a 19-yard scoring play to boost Jacksonville’s lead to 54-33 with 3:36 remaining in the third quarter.
Rowley passed for 251 yards and four touchdowns before departing late in the third quarter. Steven Sheffield tossed three touchdown passes and was intercepted once. Randy Hymes led Spokane with 13 receptions for 93 yards and two touchdowns. Greg Orton, who returned to the Shock this week from the UFL, had three TD catches in the second half.
Jacobs completed 5 of 7 for 82 yards and four touchdowns. Simmons had four touchdown receptions and one rushing TD. Jeff Hughley returned the opening kickoff 57 yards for a touchdown and added two TD catches.