The High Country Grizzlies (2-2) couldn’t capitalize on the momentum of their 94-6 win over the Dayton Wolfpack, as the Jacksonville Sharks (4-0) gave them a dose of their own medicine in a 68-21 home loss.
Jacksonville started out the same way High Country did last week, scoring early and often. Quarterback Stephen Panasuk got off to the worst possible start, as he threw an interception to Charlie Hunt, who returned it for a touchdown and the first score of the game. Not long after, Sharks quarterback Tommy Grady found Darryl Thompson in the end zone to extend the deficit to 13-0 at the end of the first qurater.
Jacksonville would not only continue the theme throughout the first half, but increase the pace in the second quarter, as the only mistake committed was the lone missed extra point. Mo Williams and Cornelius Lewis would both score through the air and on the ground, respectively, and High Country quickly found themselves down 27-0. In fact, Grady found Williams open deep again, then engineered a quick scoring drive finishing with the pair’s third scoring connection of the game, and the halftime deficit was 41-0.
Showing a small manner of fight, the Grizzlies came out and scored the first touchdown of the third quarter thanks to a combination of forcing much-needed turnovers on defense and Panasuk starting to gain a rhythm. The good news was that both Malachi Jones and Undra Hendrix found the end zone to get on the board, but the bad news is not only did the Sharks have the answer for each score, but DB/LB Darius Lipford had to be taken off the field due to injury early on in the second half.
Down 47-15 after the second score, Jacksonville went on to score 21 unanswered points despite further defensive toughness (including a Daron Clark interception, playing defense for the injured Lipford). While Hendrix scored the last touchdown of the night, his second of the game, it was too little, too late for the Grizzlies, who drop to .500 on the season. Jacksonville remains one of the two undefeated teams in the NAL, the other being Monterrey.
High Country will be able to rest up and heal from this week’s battle, as they have a bye week before traveling to Columbus to take on the Lions on Saturday, April 22.