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Massachusetts Pirates (7-5) at Jacksonville Sharks (11-1)

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Saturday, July 20, Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Jacksonville, FL 7:00 PM

By Mick Moninghoff

No Local (MA) Radio:
LIVE Streaming: NAL YouTube

Pirates Transactions this Week
The Pirates have activated WR Dexter McCluster, Mississippi, and DE/LB Tavarus Dantzler, Buthune-Cookman from Short Term Injured Reserve.  The Pirates also signed and activated free agent DL Willie Yarbary, Wake Forrest.

For the Record
The Pirates have clinched the third seed in the upcoming National Arena League playoffs and will face the defending league champion Carolina Cobras in Greensboro the weekend of August 3. The official date and time have not yet been announced.

The Jacksonville Sharks have clinched home field advantage through the playoffs as they will finish with the best record in the league.

 Last Week
The Sharks ended the Pirates six game winning streak while extending their own win streak to 11 with a 59-42 victory over the Pirates at the DCU Center last Saturday night. Pirates QB Sean Brackett threw four TD passes but it was not enough for Massachusetts. Wide receiver Mardy Gilyard was on the receiving end of three of those passes to push his league leading touchdown total to 30. Brackett finished 21 of 34 for 198 yards with one interception. Gilyard pulled in nine balls for 95 yards. Khalid Wooten and Toby Johnson had interceptions for the Pirates.

Jonathan Bane was 21 of 32 passing for the Sharks for 174 yards and five touchdowns. Durron Neal was his leading receiver with six catches for 61 yards and two touchdowns. Fullback Alstevis Squirewell had six carries for 40 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

The Series:
Jacksonville leads the all-time series four games to one. The Sharks won the first to meetings this season in Worcester. Last year the teams split the two meetings in Jacksonville while the Sharks won in the DCU Center. The Pirates have never beaten the Sharks at home.

The Coaches
Anthony Payton is in his first season as Pirates Head Coach. Payton was the offensive coordinator of the Pirates last season. His record is 7-5 overall and 0-2 vs. the Sharks.

 Jacksonville Head Coach Siaha Burley is in his third season with the Sharks. Burley is 26-9 all-time in Jacksonville and led the Sharks to the 2017 National Arena League title. Burley is 4-1 vs. Massachusetts.

Scoring Offense/Defense
The Pirates average 48.3 points per game (third in the NAL) while the Sharks lead the league netting 55.5 points per game. Defensively, the Pirates rank third allowing 47.6 points per night while Jacksonville is second in the NAL allowing 33.2 points per contest.

Individual League Leaders

Completions & Rushing Touchdowns
Pirates quarterback Sean Brackett leads the NAL in pass attempts (359) and completions with 227. Brackett is 227 of 359 (63.2%) for 2,391 yards with 51 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Brackett leads the league running 398 offensive plays. His 12 rushing scores are also most in the league.

Scoring
Pirates’ wide receiver Mardy Gilyard leads the NAL with 30 total touchdowns, points with 180 and sports the most points per game at 15.0. Gilyard is tied for the league lead in TD receptions with 26. He also sports the best kickoff return average at 25.2 yards per return.

Kick Scoring
Massachusetts kicker Mike Weaver has the highest per game scoring average among kickers in the NAL at 9.0 points per game.

Interception Return Yards, Interceptions for Touchdown and Solo Tackles
Lawrence Austin of the Pirates leads the league in all three categories.
Austin has 125 interception return yards, 48 solo tackles and he is tied for the league lead with two interception returns for scores.

Completion Percentage and Passing Efficiency
Jacksonville’s Mike Fafaul leads the NAL with an efficiency rating of 107.8 and in completion percentage at 64.3%. 

Extra Points
Jacksonville’s Brandon Behr has attempted the most PAT’s in the league (90) and made the most conversions (78).

Sacks and Tackles for a Loss
Nick Woodman of the Sharks has 12.5 sacks to the lead the league as well as 12.5 tackles for a loss. He is also tied for first with four forced fumbles.

Interceptions
Seth Ellis of the Sharks has 13 interceptions, most in the league.

Team Stats - Leading the NAL

Rushing Defense
The Pirates are best against the run having allowed just 170 yards all season. They also allow the fewest yards per rush (2.0) and yards per game (14.2).

First Downs Rushing
The Pirates have 33 rushing first downs, tops in the NAL

Passing Efficiency – Completion Percentage
The Pirates QB’s rank first with a mark of 106.7 while completing 63.1% of their passes, also a league best.

Kickoff Returns of Touchdowns
The Pirates have two to lead the NAL

Interception Returns for Touchdowns
The Pirates are tied with most returns of TD’s with three.

Fumble Return Average
Massachusetts averages 45 yards per fumble return.

Jacksonville leads the NAL in the following categories:

Offensive Touchdowns Scored: 86 (Also total points 666)

Total Offense: Yards (3063) and Yards per game (255.2)

Total Defense: 195.9 yards per game & fewest passing yards allowed 2,351

Most Total Touchdowns Scored: 90

Passing Offense: 2,797 Yards, 233 Yards Per Game, 64 Passing Touchdowns, Completions 250, average yards per pass (6.7) and fewest interceptions with 12.

Passing Defense: Fewest Completions (211), Fewest Yards (2,121) and Fewest Yards Per Game (176.8)

PAT Kicking:  Most Made (78), Most Attempted (90) Most Deuces (18) Percentage Made (86.7)

Field Goals Returned: 2

Kickoff Return Average: 22.9 yards per return.

Fumble Recoveries:  11 (tied for first)

Opponent First Downs: 187

Opponent Third Down Conversion: 28%

Opponent Fourth Down Conversion: 30.2%

Sacks: 30 (tied for first) Sack Yardage, 165 yards

Sacks Allowed: 7

Kickoff Coverage Net Average: 46.6 yards

Onside Kick Success: 60% (3 of 5)

Onside Kicks Allowed: 0 (in four attempts)

The Massachusetts Pirates are members of the National Arena League (NAL). The Pirates play all home games at the DCU Center located at 50 Franklin St. Worcester, MA. 01608. For more information on the Massachusetts Pirates please call (508) 452-MASS (6277), email contact@masspiratesfootball.com or visit www.masspiratesfootball.com. Single game tickets are available online at ticketmaster.com or the DCU Center Box Office. For group outings please call 508-452-MASS (6277). Follow the Pirates on Facebook at Facebook.com/MAPirates on Instagram @mass.pirates, as well as Twitter @mass_pirates.

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