JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (CBS Sports) – The San Jose Sabercats (6-2) won their fourth consecutive Arena Football League game, defeating the Jacksonville Sharks (6-3) 57-36 in front of 8,641 fans at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena on Saturday night. Quarterback Russ Michna completed 16-of-23 passes for 258 yards, five touchdowns, no interceptions and also rushed for a pair of scores. On his fourth touchdown pass of the game, he hit the 300-mark for his career. San Jose’s defense continued its run of recent dominance, forcing three turnovers and holding their opponent to less than 40 points for the fourth consecutive week.
San Jose got going early, opening the scoring on their first play from scrimmage, as Michna picked out wide receiver Huey Whittaker for a 29-yard strike, the former South Florida Bull’s tenth receiving score on the season. After a touchdown pass by Sharks quarterback R.J. Archer to Jeff Hughley leveled things at 6-6, Michna showed his wheels, sprinting in untouched on a bootleg from three yards out to put San Jose on top 13-6 midway through the first quarter. San Jose carried a 16-6 advantage into the second quarter after Nich Pertuit made a 37-yard field goal, his first attempt on the season.
Jacksonville fought back into the game, as Archer picked out Jeron Harvey for a seven-yard score early in the quarter, cutting the San Jose lead to 16-13. The SaberCats scored on their ensuing possession, as Whittaker found paydirt for the second time on the night, this time on a three-yard rush. The Sharks blocked the extra point attempt, and returned it for a two-point score to bring themselves within a touchdown, 22-15. With just over four minutes to play in the half, Archer connected with Harvey again, this time from 23-yards out to tie the game at 22. San Jose struck again, this time as time expired in the half, as Michna picked out a wide open Whittaker once again and the SaberCats carried a 29-22 lead into the break.
Whittaker showed his versatility, intercepting an R.J. Archer pass inside the ten on Jacksonville’s opening drive of the half. Michna put his athleticism on display once again, scrambling and scoring his second rushing touchdown of the game, this time from 13 yards out. San Jose forced another turnover and scored their third unanswered touchdown, as Michna found Fred Williams for a 24-yard touchdown on a screen pass to stretch their lead to 43-22 midway through the quarter.
San Jose’s defense pitched a shutout in the third, but the Sharks pulled within 14 early in the fourth, as Archer picked out Markee White for a four-yard touchdown. San Jose responded quickly with a four-yard score of their own, as Michna threw the 300th touchdown pass of his career, this time to Fred Williams. Jacksonville pulled a score back with seven minutes remaining, when Archer found Hughley for a 20-yard score in the corner of the endzone, cutting the San Jose lead to 50-36, but they would get no closer. Michna finished off his night, accounting for his seventh score (fifth passing), when he connected with a wide open Jason Willis for a six-yard score to push the lead to 57-36, which is how things finished.
The SaberCats return home next week to host the Utah Blaze on Saturday, May 25 at HP Pavilion in San Jose.
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