Jacksonville Sports Day

AFL: Jacksonville Sharks Fall to Soul in Conference Championship Game, 55-50

The Jacksonville Sharks used a second-half surge to erase a 15-point second-half deficit against the Philadelphia Soul in Sunday’s American Conference Championship. But a six-yard touchdown pass from Dan Raudabaugh to Darius Reynolds with four seconds left proved decisive, as the Sharks fell by a 55-50 count at PPL Center.

Coming out of the one-minute timeout, Jacksonville (7-10) trailed by a 49-43 count and faced a third-and-eight from Philadelphia’s 12-yard line. On the ensuing snap, Tommy Grady found Joe Hills toward the right-hand side of the end zone, as Hills’ fifth touchdown catch of the night put the Sharks back on top, 50-49, with 55 seconds left.

While the Sharks had regained the lead, the score also gave the Soul plenty of time to work with. Jacksonville elected to kick deep, and after a modest return, Philadelphia quickly moved into Shark territory with a pair of quick completions.

After a defensive holding penalty put the ball at the six with nine seconds left, Raudabaugh fired a strike toward the back-left corner of the end zone. Reynolds showed impressive concentration to tip the ball to himself, hauling in the game-winning score with just four ticks left on the clock.

A heads-up play by Reggie Gray to quickly run to the wall on the ensuing kickoff return gave the Sharks one final opportunity from their own two-yard line. Grady connected with Hills on a short completion, beginning a sequence of laterals that did not gain much ground as time expired to seal the game.

In what was a see-saw contest that saw plenty of sudden changes, the Sharks gained an early edge when David Hyland picked off Raudabaugh at midfield on the very first play from scrimmage, returning the interception for a touchdown that quickly put the Sharks up by a 7-0 count.

But Philadelphia regained the edge when after an offensive touchdown, kicker Tommy Frevert recovered his own bar ball to give the Soul an extra possession. A seven-yard pass from Raudabaugh to Shaun Kauleinamoku put Philadelphia ahead, 14-7.

The Sharks’ defense forced a total of three turnovers in the first half, as Alvin Ray Jackson corralled a tipped pass for an interception and Neefy Moffett forced a fumble that Micheaux Robinson recovered.

But Philadelphia’s defense responded in turn, as Dwayne Hollis intercepted Grady and Lonnie Outlaw recovered an onside kick late in the first half. A two-yard pass from Raudabaugh to tight end Adam Smith gave the Soul a 35-27 edge at halftime.

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