For the first time in their ten-year history, the Jacksonville Sharks kicked off the season at home on Saturday night. Unfortunately, the home crowd of 6,306 wasn’t enough to push the team to victory as the Sharks dropped their season opener to the expansion-franchise New York Streets by a score of 52-41.
The team was led by receiver Devin Wilson, who managed 11 receptions for 142 yards. New starting quarterback Jonathan Bane had an uneven Sharks debut, as he scored 4 total touchdowns (3 passing, 1 rushing) but missed badly on several throws throughout the night.
Receiver Jarmon Fortson brought in 5 catches for 39 yards and a score, and Alstevis Squirewell also found the end-zone in his first game as the Sharks’ replacement for longtime fullback Derrick Ross.
The Sharks held even with the Streets through most of the first half, scoring first and moving easily. The trouble began toward the end of the half, when New York converted twice in fourth down situations including a score following three consecutive goal-line stops by the Sharks defense.
The Streets entered halftime leading 30-21 and would carry that momentum into the second half, adding another touchdown to their existing lead. The Sharks fought back, cutting the lead to 10 and even recovering a subsequent onside kick, but the team’s offense went ice cold for the next few possessions. This included a turnover on downs and a brutal sequence where Bane overthrew a wide-open Fortson, then threw an interception on the next play.
A fumble recovery by Markus Smith with just under 10 minutes remaining in the fourth gave the Sharks a slight hint of life. The offense marched down the field, scoring on a run by Bane and successfully going for two. But New York responded by recovering the subsequent onside kick and scoring again. A late end-zone catch by Chris Gilchrist was too little, too late, as was Robert Brown’s interception with just 48 seconds remaining.
The result was disappointing for a Sharks team that was chosen as the NAL’s top roster prior to the start of the season. The team will look to bounce back as they hit the road to visit the Columbus Lions on Friday, April 19 at 7:00 PM.
View a full collection of photos from Saturday night’s action below.