JACKSONVILLE, FL (June 1, 2013) – Four Pittsburgh turnovers and a 42-point second half by Jacksonville told the story as the Pittsburgh Power fell to the Jacksonville Sharks, 70-48, in front of 8,568 at Veterans Memorial Arena on Saturday night. With the win, Jacksonville (8-3) completes a season sweep, while remaining unbeaten all-time (4-0) against Pittsburgh. Despite the loss, the Power (3-7) remain in sole possession of the final American Conference playoff spot with Orlando and Cleveland both losing this evening.
Jacksonville jumped on the board quickly in the 1st quarter, with quarterback Bernard Morris ending the first drive of the game with a 14-yard rushing touchdown. Nine plays and 45 yards later, Pittsburgh quarterback Steven Sheffield found wide receiver Julian Talley in the end zone to tie the game, 7-7. The Sharks would finish out the scoring in the 1st with a 2-yard rushing touchdown by receiver Jeff Hughley.
The 2nd quarter started off rough for the Power, when a forced fumble on a Talley reception was recovered by Jacksonville. The Sharks capitalized on that recovery, extending their lead to 21-7. On the ensuing kickoff, Week 10 AFL MVP Chris LeFlore proved voters right with a 54-yard return. Sheffield found Mike Washington in the endzone one play later, bringing the Power within seven points. With momentum back on Pittsburgh’s side, the Power put up a great defensive effort and forced Jacksonville to attempt a field goal from their own 2-yard line. LeFlore (J. Lewis Small Playmaker of the Game for the second straight week) once again put Pittsburgh in excellent field position after returning the kick 35 yards to the Jacksonville 17. One play later, Sheffield completed an 8-yard pass to give Talley his second touchdown of the game. After a missed extra point by Power kicker Julian Rauch, Jacksonville’s lead was cut to 21-20. The Sharks took momentum into halftime when Jeron Harvey (Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Game) caught a touchdown pass that deflected off the iron with just 6 seconds left in the half. That catch won Cutters Catch of the Game honors for Harvey. Jacksonville took a 28-20 lead to the locker room.
The 3rd quarter was dominated by defense and turnovers, with Jacksonville stopping the Power’s first drive, Brandon Freeman intercepting Morris on the ensuing drive, and Talley fumbling the ball (his second of the game) on the next drive. Jacksonville ended the scoring drought with a 4-yard rushing touchdown by Rendrick Taylor. Turnovers continued to haunt the Power, as Sheffield’s pass was intercepted by Terrance Smith (Riddell Defensive Player of the Game) on the next drive. Jacksonville took advantage once again, scoring on another rushing touchdown by Taylor. The 3rd quarter ended with the Sharks leading 42-20. This marked the 3rd straight game that Pittsburgh had been held scoreless in the 3rd quarter.
Sheffield and the Power started the 4th quarter with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Washington, but Jacksonville would score two more times, marking a 35-7 run since late in the 2nd quarter. Pittsburgh would score three more touchdowns, including an impressive over-the-wall grab by Washington, but not even a 28-point 4th quarter offensive explosion would be enough to catch the Sharks. Jacksonville would go on to win, 70-48.
After going 9-9 with 75-yards passing in the first half, Sheffield finished the game 24-30 with 235-yards and 6 touchdowns. Even with two lost fumbles, Talley accumulated 117 yards receiving and 4 touchdowns.
Jacksonville’s Morris threw for 249 yards and 6 total touchdowns, one of them on the ground. Harvey ended the evening with 4 touchdowns and 122 yards receiving.
The Power visit the San Jose SabreCats next Saturday, June 8. Kickoff from HP Pavilion is at 10:30 p.m. EDT and will be broadcast live on TribLIVE Radio SportsTalk. Pittsburgh’s next home game is Saturday, June 15 against the division-leading Philadelphia Soul at 7:00 p.m.
RUSSELL ATHLETIC OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
Jacksonville’s Jeron Harvey
RIDDELL DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
Jacksonville’s Terrance Smith
J. LEWIS SMALL PLAYMAKER OF THE GAME
Pittsburgh’s Chris LeFlore
CUTTERS CATCH OF THE GAME
Jacksonville’s Jeron Harvey’s grab off the iron with 6 second remaining in first half.
AFL HIGHLIGHT OF THE GAME
Jacksonville’s Josh Philpart’s 45-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter