Pirates’ wide receiver Mardy Gilyard had scored three times and the Pirates defense intercepted Sharks quarterback Jonathan Bane five times, but it was not enough as the Jacksonville Sharks (12-1) defeated the Massachusetts Pirates (7-6) in overtime 54-47 at the Coliseum in Jacksonville.
The Pirates jumped out to a 10-0 first quarter lead as the Massachusetts defense set the tone. Defensive back Lawrence Austin’s ninth interception of the season set up Mike Weaver for a 40 yard field goal. Later in the quarter Khalid Wooten picked of Bane which led to a Sean Brackett to Gilyard 21 yard scoring play. The Sharks got on the board when Devin Wilson connected with Bane from 22 yards out, but the quarter ended with Brackett hitting Thomas Owens who made a fingertip catch to put the Pirates up 17-7.
The Sharks showed why they are the number one team in the league as they ran off 22 straight points to start the second quarter. Kamrin Solomon caught a touchdown pass, Brandon Behr tacked on a “Deuce,” Alstevis Squirewell scored on a short run and Cody Saul added a pick-six to make the score 30 to 17 in Jacksonville’s favor.
A 40 yard field goal by Weaver closed the defect to 30-20 before the Massachusetts defense stepped up again. Kavika Luafatasaga’s interception gave the ball back to the Pirates who scored with 2:45 left in the half as Brackett hooked up with Owens to put the Pirates down by three, 30-27 at the half.
Behr started the second half with a “Deuce” but the Pirates grabbed a one point lead when Gilyard scored his second TD of the game on a 28 yard scoring play. The Sharks came right back with their second pick-six of the game when Markus Smith took a Brackett toss to the house for a 38-33 lead. Behr connected on this third “Deuce” of the night to add on two more points for a seven point advantage to close out the scoring in the third quarter.
In the final set the Pirates showed their resolve as Gilyard scored for the third time in the game from eight yards out to make it 40 all with just under ten minutes left in the game. Austin’s second interception and tenth on the year, set up the Pirates who scored on a fourth and goal from the five as Brackett found Devonn Brown in the left corner of the end zone to put the Pirates on top with 2:37 to play.
Mike Fafaul came off the bench for the Sharks to lead their final drive in regulation which ended with a TD pass to Jaron Fortson that tied the game at 47. A missed “Deuce” attempt by Behr left the door open for the Pirates, but a 43 yard field goal by Weaver at the horn was no good and the game headed for overtime.
On the Sharks first possession Fafaul hit Wilson with a TD pass to give the Sharks a 54-47 lead. The Pirates possession ended with Robert Brown intercepting Brackett for the third time on the night to seal the victory for the Sharks. For Jacksonville it was their 12 consecutive victory.
For the Pirates Brackett ended the night 17 of 37 for 198 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions. His top target was Gilyard who had ten receptions for 101 yards and three scores. Austin led the defense with seven tackles and two interceptions. Sharks QB Bane was 13 of 29 for 132 yards and five interceptions along with two touchdowns. Fafaul was five for five in relief with two scores. Wilson led the Jacksonville receivers with eight catches for 94 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Brown was the top tackler with three and half stops and a pick.
The Pirates return to Worcester for their final home game of the season to face the New York Streets on Saturday night at the DCU Center in a 7:15 start.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.