SaberCats take down first-place Sharks, 83-70

July 2, 2011, 6:18 am
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July 2, 2011

SAN JOSE Before a crowd of 8,216 at HP Pavilion the San Jose SaberCats (6-9) returned home for the first time since May 28th to upset the Jacksonville Sharks (13-2) 83-70 in a matchup featuring legendary AFL quarterbacks Mark Grieb and Aaron Garcia. San Jose entered the contest two games out of a playoff spot in the National Conference and won for the first time in their last eight games, ending the Sharks league-record 13-game winning streak.

OwnerHead Coach Darren Arbet was excited to break the SaberCats seven game losing streak, Im proud of the guys. We got embarrassed last week, those guys took it personal and they came out focused. Jacksonville is the best team in the league and the guys came out and were determined to win this football game and did a tremendous job.

The initial Jacksonville drive saw Garcia lead the Sharks the length of the field culminating with a 5-yard touchdown pass to WR Jamarko Simmons to open the scoring. The SaberCats answered with a game-tying 23-yard touchdown pass from Grieb to OL Mark Lewis, his third touchdown reception of the season and Griebs 70th of the season, making him the only player in AFL history to have 70-or-more touchdown passes in eight consecutive seasons. On Griebs second completion of the game to WR Ben Nelson, he surpassed 4,000 passing yards for the sixth consecutive season, another AFL record. Following a Jacksonville score, San Jose FBLB Chad Cook crossed the goal line to even the score at 14, his 27th rushing touchdown of the year.

The Sharks started the second quarter with Garcia connecting with WR Jomo Wilson for a 45-yard touchdown. After fumbling a snap that Jacksonville recovered, San Jose fell behind by two touchdowns when Garcia found Wilson for his second receiving touchdown of the game extending the Sharks lead to 28-14. The SaberCats cut the lead back to seven as Grieb found Nelson in the back of the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown. Jacksonville regained a two score advantage when Garcia hit Wilson for a 10-yard touchdown. On the ensuing drive Grieb was intercepted by WRDB LaRoche Jackson, setting the Sharks up for another Jomo Wilson receiving touchdown, his fourth of the half. San Jose cut the lead to 42-28 on the last play from scrimmage of the first half when Grieb found WR Marco Thomas in the corner of the end zone for a 24-yard touchdown.

The SaberCats struck quickly to open the second half on a 12-yard pass from Grieb to WR James Roe to bring them within seven at 42-35. The teams traded scores with Grieb connecting with Cook for a 34-yard score his first receiving touchdown since April 1st versus Iowa and the longest in franchise history by a fullback. DB Dwight Mclean forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff that was recovered by DL Kai Ellis to knot the score at 49 with 3:52 remaining in the third quarter. Following the score, San Jose forced another fumble on the kickoff that was recovered by WR Ben Nelson in Jacksonville territory and established a season high for fumbles recovered in a game with three. Grieb found WR James Roe in the corner of the end zone for a go ahead touchdown giving San Jose their first lead of the game, 56-49.

Following a Sharks touchdown, Grieb led the SaberCats the length of the field punching it in from the 4-yard line to regain a seven point lead on his fourth rushing touchdown of the season. On the following drive DB Trestin George intercepted Garcia in the end zone. Grieb then connected with Nelson for a 29-yard touchdown pass, Nelsons second score in the game, to put the Cats up 70-56. Jacksonville answered with a touchdown to pull within seven points but San Jose answered with Cooks second receiving touchdown of over 25 yards of the contest, the first time in franchise history a fullback has accomplished the feat. The teams traded scores to end the game, the last SaberCats touchdown coming on a one-handed catch by James Roe in the end zone.

Grieb passed for 401 yards, his fourth career 400-plus passing effort, and his ten total touchdowns are a season high. James Roes 143 receiving yards left him just 228 yards shy of 10,000 receiving yards for his career. San Joses 83 points scored ties for the third most in franchise history and is the largest point total since the SaberCats scored 89 against the Colorado Crush on April 22, 2005. The SaberCats three fumble recoveries were a season high, and K Juan Gamboa set a career high with 11 extra points

San Jose (6-9) takes on the Orlando Predators (9-6) at HP Pavilion on Saturday, July 9 at 7:30 PDT as the SaberCats look to move to 7-9 on the year.

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