Jacksonville, FL: The Lehigh Valley Steelhawks (2-1) entered the Shark Tank on Saturday night to face the heralded Jacksonville Sharks, who last season were members of the Arena Football League. Despite tying the game mid way thru the 4th quarter, the team unfortunately could not pull off the upset on the road. The team overcame a 17 point deficit in the first half to give the National Arena Football League fans arguably the game of they thru the first part of the season. With the 57-43 victory, Jacksonville moves to 3-0 on the season and the Steelhawks fall to 2-1.
The first quarter started with each team working the kinks out on their first possessions; Jacksonville fumbled and Lehigh Valley missed a field goal. The Sharks were the first to draw blood on a short pass to pay dirt from QB Tommy Grady to WR Darryl Thompson. They’d put another seven on the board before the quarter was out while Lehigh Valley fought to keep it close by adding a touchdown themselves on a QB Warren Smith Jr. nine yard pass to WR Brandon Renford.
The second quarter had a unique play early on as Head Coach Chris Thompson challenged the ruling of an interception in the endzone. Unfortunately the referees and ’Hawks saw different, and the call was confirmed in favor of the Sharks recording the interception in their own endzone.
Jacksonville would add three touchdowns; the second two on long touchdown throws to Thompson (he had three on the night). The Steelhawks would fight and add two touchdowns themselves, both to Renford, to keep themselves in the game. Halftime score: Jacksonville 33, Lehigh Valley 19.
Lehigh Valley came out firing in the third quarter. Capping a 30 yard drive, FB Wyreaz Bradley rumbled four yards and across the goal line, and lineman Bret Piekarski caught the tight end delay for two points to begin the Steelhawks fight to come back. The Sharks’ FB Derrick Ross would match Bradley’s touchdown on their next drive. The ’Hawks would score 18 unanswered points to end the quarter and begin the fourth – WR Darius Prince tallied most of the yards on the next drive, ending with a 15 yard catch in the endzone. WR Warren Oliver Jr. would be on the end of the two point conversion and then again on a 28 yard touchdown lob to tie the score at 43.
Unfortunately that was as close as Lehigh Valley could get to beating Jacksonville. The Sharks would prove their experience as they scored touchdowns, forced an interception, and held LV on fourth and goal with two minutes left. DB Rodney Hall Jr. would end the Sharks last drive with an interception with three seconds on the clock. Final score: Lehigh Valley 43, Jacksonville 57.
Quarterback Warren Smith Jr threw 5 touchdowns on the night, three of which went to Wr Brandon Renford who capped the night with 86 receiving yards
The ’Hawks return to the Valley to face the Columbus Lions on Embassy Bank Field in the PPL Center this coming weekend, Sunday, April 1st, with a 5pm kickoff. The game will be presented by Lehigh Valley Health Network and feature the first 1000 fans receiving a FREE Steelhawks Tee Shirt.
2017 flex season ticket and individual game packages to watch the Steelhawks play inside the PPL Center are on sale now. Keep checking for the latest news and events from the Steelhawks. For further information please call Lehigh Valley Steelhawks Executive Vice President and General Manager Mike Clark at (610) 282-3100, or visit our website at www.LVSteelhawks.com for the latest Steelhawks news. Reserve your seat now by calling the Steelhawks office at 610-282-3100. The Steelhawks play all of their home games on Embassy Bank Field inside the PPL Center.
Stay up to date with the Steelhawks by visiting the team website at www.LVSteelhawks.com or following them on Facebook: Lehigh Valley Steelhawks.