Sharks Come Back Against Cobras for NAL Title
Jacksonville, FL – The Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena hosted the 2023 National Arena League (NAL) Championship Game on Saturday, August 12th. The first-seed Jacksonville Sharks were seeking their third title since 2017 against the second-seed Carolina Cobras.
The Cobras scored two early touchdowns to take a 14-0 lead. Sam Castronova responded with a rushing touchdown to put the Sharks on the board for the first time in the Championship Game. Brandon Munoz scored the other Sharks touchdown of the first quarter, a two-yard rush.
The Sharks recorded two sacks in back-to-back plays to stop Carolina on downs. All-NAL player Sha-ki Holiness and Jermiah Price both took down Cobras QB Malik Henry to get the ball back in the hands of the offense.
The Cobras led the Sharks after 15 minutes, 21-14.
Carolina scored to start the second quarter, a field goal to give them a double-digit cushion. They scored the next touchdown, too, increasing their lead and drastically taking energy out of the home crowd in Jacksonville. The only Sharks touchdown in the second was another rushing score by Castronova.
All Jacksonville touchdowns in the half were scored on the rush.
Carolina extended their lead to 31-21 after 30 minutes.
The Sharks came out of half ready to play and started with a huge 49-yard touchdown pass from Castronova to NAL Offensive Player of the Year, Kamrin Solomon. All-NAL player Marquel Wade scored to put the Sharks back within five in the third, again with a pass from Castronova. Anthony Johnson scored his first touchdown of the 2023 playoffs to put Jacksonville on top for the first time.
Another critical defensive stop led to Johnson's touchdown. A second sack by Jermiah Price helped take the Cobra's offense off the field at their 18-yard line to set up Castronova and the Sharks.
The home team took a 39-38 lead into the final 15 minutes of the NAL season.
Jacksonville continued their scoring rush in the fourth quarter. The regular season touchdown leader, Solomon, scored his second of the night, followed by an additional two from Castronova on the conversion keeper. Carolina scored to cut the Sharks lead to two, but with 38 seconds left on the clock, Wade scored his second touchdown to secure a title for the Sharks.
The Jacksonville Sharks defeated the Carolina Cobras 54-45 for the 2023 NAL title.
After a shaky start, Castronova finished the championship game with 241 passing yards, four passing touchdowns, all in the second half, and scored two rushing touchdowns.
Solomon recorded 128 receiving yards and two touchdowns. He finished the 2023 playoffs with three touchdowns in two games.
Jeremiah Price led the defense with two sacks in critical moments to help the Sharks bounce back for their come-from-behind victory.
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.com/sharkattackdance and Chum at facebook.com/chumsharks.