Jacksonville, FL – After a two-week hiatus, the Sharks (2-2) were back in action at the Tank on Saturday night. Their opponent this week was the NAL Champion Albany Empire (1-3). The Empire has had many changes since the beginning of the season, and the Sharks took full advantage of the uncertainties in Albany as they faced off in week seven.
Sam Castronova took the field for the first time against his former team and immediately proved his worth to the Jacksonville fanbase. He finished his first game at the Tank with five touchdown passes and 282 passing yards on 23 completed passes.
Jacksonville started the game strong against the defending champs. After an interception in the endzone by Jabari Gorman, Castronova threw his first touchdown as a Shark, a 27-yard bomb to Marquel Wade, which was also his first touchdown after resigning with Jacksonville earlier this season. The other two Shark’s second-quarter touchdowns came from Brian Smith, both rushing. The Sharks led 21-7 after one.
Jacksonville kept the scoring going in the second quarter with a touchdown from Jenson Stoshak as an immediate answer to Albany’s score. Kamrin Solomon added more later in the half to give Jacksonville a 35-21 lead going into the break.
Sha-Ki Holiness led the defense in the first half. He had one sac and one fumble recovery to help the Sharks take the 14-point lead into the third quarter. Justin Renfrow also had a sac.
Castronova started the second half with a rushing score of his own, and Albany immediately answered with a kickoff return to keep the Shark’s lead at two touchdowns. Tamorrion Terry’s first reception was a long touchdown pass from Castronova, which put Jacksonville up by double digits. He was not done, however. Later in the quarter, Terry scored again, this time by leaping over the defense and walking into the endzone. This capped off a solid quarter for Jacksonville, who led 56-28 going into the last 15 minutes.
The Sharks did not have the ball to start the fourth quarter, but they scored anyway. A pick-six by Marquel Wade, his second touchdown, kept the energy at the Tank high as the Sharks fought for their first home win. Solomon continued his outstanding year with his second touchdown of the game, his eleventh of the season. A safety gave Jacksonville two more points, eliminating Albany’s hope for a late-game comeback. Terry’s third touchdown gave Jacksonville 79 points, the most they have scored in a game this season.
The clock ran out with the Sharks winning 79-34, winning their first home game of the season against the struggling Albany Empire.
The defense was shining all game, allowing only 169 passing yards for Albany quarterback Jonathan Bane. David Gilbert had one blocked kick to top off the defensive success.