The Jacksonville Sharks hit the road this past week, looking to bounce back after a tough loss at home to the New York Streets on opening night. They did exactly that, defeating the Columbus Lions on Friday night by a score of 48-24.
The game began with a 2-point conversion by Brandon Behr – the first of three conversions he made. The Lions answered quickly, with QB Luke Collis slinging a 29-yard touchdown pass to Paris Mack, who had a monstrous night for Columbus.
But the Sharks also had an answer, as QB Jonathan Bane threw a 33-yard strike to Durron Neal to give the Sharks a 9-8 lead.
The Sharks’ defense looked strong as ever on Friday night, particularly in the first half. The team managed a key fourth-down stop and held the Lions to just a field goal on a six-minute drive at the end of the first quarter. DB Seth Ellis also picked off a pass from Collis in the middle of the second quarter.
Bane looked much steadier against the Lions than he did in last week’s season opener, even despite throwing two first-half interceptions. His TD passes to Neal and Devin Wilson in the first half were near-perfect corner strikes to the end zone.
The Sharks carried a 25-18 lead into the half and never looked back from there. The team opened the third quarter with another touchdown drive, this time with Jarmon Fortson finding the end zone. LB Cody Saul intercepted Collis on the Lions’ next possession, which set up a 1-yard TD run by Neal.
Columbus almost put together a run to start the fourth quarter, scoring to start the final frame and then forcing a turnover on downs from the Sharks. But Collis then fumbled twice in a row, the second of which was recovered by the Sharks.
Another Bane TD pass to Neal would seal the victory for the Sharks, who advance to 1-1 heading into a bye week.
The Sharks were led on Friday night by strong showings from Jonathan Bane, who went 18 of 30 for 178 yards and threw for 5 touchdowns, and Durron Neal, who pulled in 10 receptions for 83 yards and 2 TDs along with one rushing TD. Neal joined the Sharks this season after spending last year with the Lions.
Last week’s standout Devin Wilson finished with six receptions for 67 yards.
Paris Mack led the way for Columbus, with 7 catches for 105 yards and a score. Luke Collis struggled mightily, throwing for over 200 yards but with a completion percentage under 50%, two interceptions, and a lost fumble.
The Sharks now head into a bye week; after that, they’ll face the Massachusetts Pirates on May 4th at 7:00 PM in Worcester, MA.