Jacksonville Falls to Carolina in Regular Season Finale 62-55

by Steven Shotola

Sharks Swim into Postseason 7-7

JACKSONVILLE, FL - In a much needed return to the Shark Tank the Sharks faced turmoil on the road in San Antonio last week but seemed to be right at home kicking off tonight for their seventh & final regular season home game of the 2022 season. Jacksonville faced the #2 ranked Carolina Cobras (8-5) who they defeated 63-26 in their last match up here in Jacksonville. 

In an early game surprise, Quarterback Arvell Nelson did not start the game, instead NAL Veteran and Sharks backup Mike Fafaul entered the game on the first drive and scored on his first play throwing a bomb to receiver Miles Kelly for a touchdown. A missed extra point would put the Sharks up 6-0 to start the game. The Cobras began their first drive of the game and the Jacksonville defense shut them down fast with a quick turnover on downs delivering the Sharks defense great field position. Quarterback Mike Fafaul gained his second touchdown of the night this time from a quick pass to receiver Jenson Stoshak on a fourth down conversion 

Up 13-0, the Sharks defense stepped up forcing the Cobras to fourth down but quarterback Malik Henry hailed a 30-yard pass to receiver Kendrick Ings for a touchdown and a TC Stevens deuce cut the Cobras deficit to 13-9. Jacksonville was quick to strike back as Fafaul threw another touchdown pass on the first play of the drive as a bobbled pass caught by Miles Kelly led to a 45-yard touchdown for the Sharks. Into the 2nd quarter, Cobras receiver DJ Meyers got his first touchdown of the game catching a 15-yard pass from quarterback Malik Henry to close the scoring gap to 20-16. The Sharks offense struck back with another Mike Fafaul to Jenson Stoshak touchdown pass. Jacksonville kicker Nick Belcher knocked down a deuce to give Jacksonville the 29-16 lead. 

Former Sharks coach James Fuller leaned on former Sharks receiver Joe Hills to convert another score for the Cobras as Hill caught his first touchdown catch of the night bringing the score to 29-23. On the next drive, Cobras defensive back Herb Edwards picked off Sharks quarterback Mike Fafual. The turnover cost the Sharks as Carolina not only took the ball back and the lead as they scored a few plays later with a Malik Henry touchdown toss to receiver Adam Smith. Kicker TC Stevens added to the lead with his second deuce of the night setting the score to 32-29. Cobras defensive back Herb Edwards snagged a second interception to give the Cobras back the ball with good field position that led to fullback Zack Brown punching in a Carolina touchdown near the end of the half. Miraculously, with only five seconds left Sharks quarterback Mike Fafaul launched a touchdown pass to Rob Jones to enter the locker room only down 39-35. 

Into the second half, the Sharks defense limited a scoring drive holding Carolina to a field goal. On the Shark first drive of the half defensive back Herb Waters gained his third interception of the night from Mike Fafaul but this time returned it for a touchdown. Sharks down 49-35, looked to Arville Nelson as the veteran quarterback took the field. Nelson, on his first drive of the night he found receiver Jenson Stoshak for his third receiving touchdown. The Cobras continued to score as lineman Micah Robinson rushed in Carolina’s next touchdown, putting the Sharks down 56-42. 

Unfortunately, Jacksonville committed their fourth turnover of the night on offense as LB/WR DJ Meyers intercepted an Arvell Nelson pass. Jacksonville’s defense did manage to stop Carolina’s attempt at a touchdown and forced a field goal out of TC Stevens. On offense, Sharks quarterback Arvell Nelson threw a touchdown pass to receiver Milton Williams, shortening the 59-49 lead. The Sharks defense answered the call of duty again limiting the Cobras to just a field goal. Meanwhile Coach Burley’s offense drove down the field for another touchdown drive but this time the score came from the ground as FB/LB Quayvon Hicks who punched in a rushing touchdown for Shark nation. Cobras up 62-55 Two minutes left in the game, the Sharks needed a stop and a quick score. While Jacksonville did stop Carolina from scoring, they did not have enough time left in the game to make a comeback here in Jacksonville. 

The Cobras (9-5) came out on top tonight 62-55. Bright stars for the Sharks included Sharks receiver Jenson Stoshak who caught three touchdown passes. Receiver Rob Jones caught two touchdowns and WR/DB Miles Kelly gained five tackles tonight and caught three passes including one for a touchdown. Struggles for the Sharks came from four turnovers each coming from the quarterback position with interceptions Fafaul (3) and Nelson (1). Even with building momentum the clock seemed to run out on the Sharks tonight. On special teams kicker Nick Belcher did get one last deuce of the season in the Shark Tank and was 5 for 8 in extra points. 

Jacksonville (7-7) will now hit the road for the NAL Playoffs next weekend to face the Albany Empire (8-4). The winner of that game will play the winner of Columbus (7-5) @ Carolina (9-5) to determine the two teams that will play in the 2022 NAL Championships. Because the Sharks enter the playoffs as the fourth seed they will play all post season games on the road. The Sharks final home game of the season was a success as Jacksonville witnessed a great attendance of more than 8,000 fans for Military Appreciation Night presented by Navy Federal Credit Union. 

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 Nation Memberships for the 2022 season are now available. To become a Shark Nation member or for more information please call (904) 621-0700. Follow the Sharks on Facebook at facebook.com/jaxsharks and on Twitter and Instagram @jaxsharks, as well as the Attack Dance Team at facebook.com/sharkattackdance and Chum at     facebook.com/chumsharks.