Jacksonville, FL – This week, the Jacksonville Sharks (1-0) hosted the San Antonio Gunslingers (1-0) as their first home opponent of the 2023 NAL season. Teams were trading touchdowns for most of the game, leading to a 56-56 tie late in the fourth quarter. A heartbreaking overtime period gave San Antonio a 63-62 win, ruining Jacksonville's homecoming.
The first quarter started with a bang! The opening kickoff return by Karmin Solomon was a good one and set up a quick Sharks touchdown. Khalil McClain scored both first-quarter touchdowns for Jacksonville—the second of those set up a successful two-point conversion attempt that quarterback Conor Blount completed. Unfortunately, the Gunslingers' offense saw equal success, and the quarter ended at 14-14.
Second-quarter touchdowns were scored by Blount, McClain, his third of the game, and Jordus Smith. Smith's score was his first of the season, and it was a beauty as he fell into the crowd, securing the ball for the score. On the defensive side, Jabari Gorman brought down an interception at the goal line, ceasing San Antonio's progress on their possession. Jacksonville took a 35-28 lead into halftime.
After the first half, McClain led both teams in touchdowns, with three. Blount threw for 130 yards and two touchdowns. The quarterback also had 50 rushing yards at the end of 30 minutes.
The second half started with more Sharks highlights, this time on defense. David Gilbert began the third quarter with a sac, and McClain continued his stellar game with an interception. Smith scored his second of the game, this time a rushing touchdown. San Antonio's offense came storming back after halftime, scoring two touchdowns and tying the game at 42-42.
The final 15 minutes of action did not start well for the Sharks. A miscue led to a 49-42 San Antonio lead. But Blount immediately responded with a touchdown of their own, this time from Jenson Stoshak. A substantial defensive series stop within the final minute, highlighted by a second sac from Gilbert, kept the Gunslingers from retaking the lead and gave the Sharks the ball on their six-yard line. The strong defense helped push the game to overtime, the first for the first of the season for Jacksonville.
On the first play in overtime, Blount threw to McClain for his FIFTH touchdown of the game. However, a missed extra point from Daniel Justino proved to be the downfall for the Sharks, as San Antonio rallied to score seven on the next drive, winning the game 63-62.
Blount finished the game with 263 passing yards and four touchdown passes. McClain recorded five touchdowns and 57 receiving yards. He also recorded a sac and interception on the other side of the ball. Kamrin Solomon had 137 yards on seven kick returns and another 63 receiving yards on offense.
The Sharks are on the road next week as they take on NAL newcomers the Fayetteville Mustangs.
The next home game for Jacksonville is on April 30 when the Orlando Predators come to town. Tickets can be purchased at www.jaxsharks.com or by calling 904-621-0700.
About the Jacksonville Sharks
The Jacksonville Sharks are members of the National Arena League (NAL).The 2019 & 2017 NAL Champions and ArenaBowl XXIV Champions play all their home games at the Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena. Sharks season tickets for the 2023 season are now available. To become a Shark Nation member or for more information please call (904) 621-0700 or visit https://www.jaxsharks.com/shark-nation-memberships Follow the Sharks on Facebook at facebook.com/jaxsharks and on Twitter and Instagram @jaxsharks, as well as the Attack Dance Team at facebook.om/sharkattackdance and Chum at facebook.com/chumsharks.