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Sharks get first road win, ends three-game skid vs. Iowa

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The Jacksonville Sharks (3-5) got back to their winning ways on the road against the Iowa Barnstormers (4-4), prevailing 68-48 on Saturday night.

QB R.J. Archer, who has had solid performances despite coming up short the last two weeks, picked up where he left off. After the opening kickoff went out of bounds, he completed his first two passes, including a 32-yard touchdown to WR Jomo Wilson. Kicker Fabrizio Scaccia missed the extra point, leaving the lead at 6-0.

Iowa answered back quickly thanks to a big kickoff return and a one-handed catch by WR Marco Thomas, but then the Sharks put their stamp on the game.

First, R.J. Archer hit WR London Crawford on a 45-yard catch and run, then DB Xavier Brewer recovered the kickoff bounce off the iron, and finally Brodrick Brown and Terrance Smith combined to force a fumble. LB Charlie Hunt recovered, and one play later Archer found WR Jeron Harvey in the end zone to make the lead 27-7 halfway through the first quarter.

Iowa began to claw back and make it a game again, starting with a big catch and run from Marco Thomas. The Barnstormers defensive line started to pressure R.J. Archer, but he still made plays with his arm and his legs, scrambling in open space. Despite a potential TD pass getting knocked down on 3rd-and-5 to end the first quarter, London Crawford converted on fourth down, and Jomo Wilson scored to increase the lead back to 20.

Receivers on both teams were getting open space, and the Sharks started to hurt themselves with penalties, allowing Iowa to score back-to-back touchdowns. The offense struggled to get back into a rhythm, but with the score at 34-28, Jeron Harvey found his way on the stat sheet again, making a catch near midfield and another in the end zone at the one-minute warning. Another special teams mistake, this time a bad snap, left the score at 40-28 inside the final minute.

The Barnstomers scored on an end around, and after another blocked extra point, the Sharks had 28.3 seconds to get points on the board before halftime. They got a drive together, but it ended with an incompletion, leaving the halftime lead at six.

Iowa put together a good third quarter, but Jacksonville matched them score for score throughout. London Crawford scored twice in the frame, and the Sharks went into the 4th quarter with a 53-48 lead due to another Fabrizio Scaccia miss.

Jacksonville’s defense stepped up again, with Terrance Smith netting an interception he returned for a touchdown to pull away from Iowa. Although the Sharks missed the two-point conversion, they held on to a 59-48 lead with 9:39 left in the game. To add further insult to Iowa, QB Carson Coffman suffered a knee injury on the play.

The defense kept rolling, forcing another stop, but it went to waste thanks to two Barnstormer goalline stands.

Things went from bad to worse for Iowa, as backup QB Bryan Reader also went down with injury and didn’t return to the game. WR Darius Renyolds had to take the snaps for the last 1:40, and Jacksonville didn’t make it easy for him. First, the Sharks pressured Renyolds into intentionally grounding the ball in the end zone for a safety. Finally, after the Sharks recovered the onside kick, R.J. Archer found London Crawford one last time to seal the victory.

Archer had another solid night on offense, completing 20 of 38 passes for 301 yards, and for the second time in a row, eight touchdown passes without an interception.

London Crawford was the star on offense, catching a game-high nine passes and four touchdowns while netting 130 yards in the process. Jeron Harvey and Jomo Wilson each had two touchdowns from five catches on the night.

Terrance Smith was the defensive star, with two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown, three tackles, two pass breakups, and his forced fumble. Xavier Brewer forced and recovered a fumble, and Aaron Robbins and Jerry Turner combined for a sack.

Iowa did have some bright spots, with QB Carson Coffman completing 12 of 22 passes for 211 yards, four scores, and a pick before being injured. FB Derik Steiner ran for two scores, and Marco Thomas caught nine balls for a game-high 169 yards and three touchdowns. He also completed a six-yard pass in his brief time under center.

The Sharks will close out the first half of the season at home against the archrival and South Division-leading Orlando Predators. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 17 at Veterans Memorial Arena, and the Sharks will celebrate Military Appreciation Night. Like every game this season, the game will be broadcast over the air on WBOB AM 600. This week’s game will also be televised on WJXT Channel 4, and can be seen online through ESPN3 or the WatchESPN app.

For more on the Jacksonville Sharks, including the latest news, updates, and transactions, log on to www.jaxsharks.com. For more on the rest of the Arena Football League, log on to www.arenafan.com and www.arenafootball.com.

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