PATERSON, NJ - The league was different, and some players were new, but the outcome of the Silk City Sharks’ first game in the friendly confines of Baurle Field was familiar-a victory.
However, the win did not come easily.
The fierce fish built a 14-0 lead only to see the visiting Philly Venom rally in the fourth quarter. With time running out on the clock, the Sharks’ defense rose to the occasion to stop a Venom drive from which a score would have tied the contest.
The hometown heroes were led by the passing of signal caller Quatrell Huffin. The 5-11, 190 pound speedster mixed pinpoint passing with quick up field running to lead the offense. Paterson touchdowns were scored on a scintillating 80-yard pass-play to newly acquired split end Dekyri Mims and a short run by Raheed Isom who alternates with Huffin at the quarterback position.
This season Sharks’ offensive outlook has been brightened by the kicking of Kevin Viecco. His two-for-two perfect extra point connections against Philly were from NFL required range.
The two squads matched defensive prowess early in the contest. Late in the first frame, a Sharks’ drive was bolstered by a sideline pass, right, from Huffin to wide receiver Deon Davis. Another quick-out to tight end John Burton gained a sizeable chunk of real estate. Burton then turned another reception into a big gain by shrugging off several would-be tacklers. However, from the Venom 29, a high snap led to a subsequent Philly fumble recovery to squelch the promising drive.
With left tackle Shaquart Thomas and nose guard Jason Patterson anchoring the Sharks’ defensive line, the Venom were able to move the ball on the following possession but unable to enter the red zone. A QB keeper led to a first down for Philly on the Paterson 34-yard line. However, on the next play, Orret ‘Straight out of Newark’ Bean intercepted a pass over the middle providing the Sharks with the ball and a first down.
On the Sharks’ first play from scrimmage following the theft, Huffin faked a handoff, rolled left, and appeared to be ready to dart up field. However, just before crossing the line of scrimmage, he suddenly pulled up and fired a long bomb down field. The aerial found Mims, who had gotten in front of his defender, streaking downfield at full speed. The perfect pass and reception spelled touchdown for the Sharks and Mims’ third score of the season.
Paterson’s defense did not let up on the next Philly offensive series as linebacker Jason Jackson nearly picked off a pass. A fierce pass rush by Thomas resulted in an attempted Venom pass falling harmlessly to the ground.
The Sharks were led on their next possession by the powerful blocking of Syheem Farrar, Abraham Feliz, and Steven Knight. A bullet pass found its target in wide receiver Jaquan McCants after he had executed an over the middle crossing pattern. However, Huffin was flushed out of the pocket by a furious Venom rush and misfired on a pass attempt to running back Marquiese Marrero. After seven yards were gained on a spectacular jumping catch by McCants, the Sharks were flagged with a 15-yard penalty. Soon thereafter, a catchy flea-flicker pass, which included a lateral by Huffin, fell just short of a would-be touchdown in Philly’s end zone. With only seconds remaining in the first half, a 43-yard field attempt by Viecco flew wide left.
The intense defensive battle continued in the second half with the Sharks finally gaining advantage from Isom’s touchdown run. Philly’s subsequent possession again saw the Sharks’ defense shine.
Following a hard hit and tackle by Kevone Little, Farrar ran the Venom’s quarterback out of bounds resulting in only a short gain yet a successful QB keeper saw Philly garner a first down.
With 9:48 left in the game, the Sharks enjoyed a 14-0 lead as well as ball possession but if anyone left the stadium thinking the game was out of reach, they were sadly mistaken. Several Sharks’ incomplete passes, short run attempts, and a long bomb which was nearly intercepted gave the ball back to the Venom.
The visitors from the City of Brotherly Love wasted no time in pulling perhaps their best trick out of the bag. On the far hash mark, the Philly quarterback connected with a long pass to the right sideline. Still behind the line of scrimmage, rather than run, the receiver also passed, this time to a wide open teammate who gathered in the pigskin, eluded several defenders, and raced into the end zone. With the score 14-6, a Venom’s quarterback sneak was successful, narrowing the Shark’s lead to six points.
The Sharks received the kickoff and began the next series from their own 20-yard line. A Philly sack lost five yards for Paterson and a run attempt garnered scant yardage. An incomplete pass led to a 4th down and punting situation. With 2:47 left, the kick was returned to the Sharks’ 30-yard line. However, concerned dismay from Sharks’ fans was soon salved by the pass defense of McBean which led to an incompletion.
A false start against Philly and close pass coverage by defensive backs Shaon Stephenson and Andre Robinson continued the Venom’s frustration. With 4th and 10 from the Sharks’ 40-yard line, Philly had one last chance. However, a fierce rush and sack by Paterson’s Thomas negated any pass attempt and proved to be the final nail in the Venom’s coffin.
The Sharks, now 2-0, travel to Mercer County this Saturday and face off against the New Jersey Pirates.
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