JACKSONVILLE – The 2012 South Division Champion Jacksonville Sharks clinched the team’s fourth postseason berth in as many seasons on Saturday night, sealing the playoff spot with a 43-41 victory over the Cleveland Gladiators in front of 8,708 on Sea Best Field at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.
With the win, Jacksonville improved to 9-5 and locked up a playoff berth based on tiebreaker advantage over the division rival Orlando Predators and New Orleans VooDoo. The Sharks also now lead the South Division by two games, as the Tampa Bay Storm (7-7) fell to the Chicago Rush on Saturday.
With his team trailing 34-30 midway through the fourth quarter, Jacksonville head coach Les Moss turned to quarterback R.J. Archer, who came on in relief of starter Kyle Rowley. Archer led the Sharks down the field, connecting with Jeron Harvey and Jeff Hughley for first-down completions. Facing a third and goal from the one, Archer handed off to wide receiver London Crawford, who powered into the end zone for a go-ahead score, putting the Sharks in front by a 37-34 count.
On the first play of the ensuing possession, Shark defensive back Micheaux Robinson stepped in front of Dieker’s pass to bring down an interception, returning it 12 yards for a touchdown to give his team some breathing room. Robinson’s second pick-six of the season extended the Jacksonville edge to 43-34 with just over one minute remaining.
The Sharks return to Sea Best Field next Saturday night to host the Orlando Predators in a rematch of the Sharks’ 44-41 victory at Amway Center back in Week 10. Kickoff on Sea Best Field is set for 7:00 p.m.
Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Game – Jacksonville WR Jeron Harvey
Riddell Defensive Player of the Game – Cleveland DB LaRoche Jackson
J. Lewis Small Playmaker of the Game – Jacksonville WR Jeff Hughley
Cutters Catch of the Game – Cleveland WR Dominick Goodman’s 10-yard, over-the-boards touchdown catch with 8:25 left in the fourth quarer
AFL Highlight of the Game – Jacksonville DB Micheaux Robinson’s 12-yard interception return for a touchdown with 1:15 left in the fourth quarter