Thunder Breaks Franchise Point Records in 72-48 Win over Jacksonville
PORTLAND - On "Christmas in July" night, the Thunder celebrated in a variety of ways, from the team's Inaugural Teddy Bear Toss, to simulated snow following every Thunder touchdown. The greatest gift of the evening, however, came through Thunder quarterback Kyle Rowley's six touchdown passes, setting Portland (4-10) up for a 72-48 victory over the Jacksonville Sharks (7-7) in front of 7,123 fans at Moda Center Saturday evening.
The 72 points set a franchise record of points scored in a single game, as well as the franchise record for victory by margin, with 24. Rowley led the charge completing 75.9% of his passes, totaling 235 yards, and added a seventh touchdown rushing.
"Offensively, we felt good the last two weeks," stated the veteran signal-caller.
The win is the Thunder's first since Week 9.
"We need to expect to win, you can't let what happened in the past change who you are as a football player," Rowley continued. We should expect to win, that's how you do it."
"I love the way we won. It was a team effort. Felt good to be in that locker room right and get that break. To look around and to having that winning smile on their faces," said head coach Mike Hohensee, following the game. "I thought we executed well, we worked hard this week, we understood we knew we had to put points on the board, as Jacksonville is an explosive team. The defense gave us some extra possessions tonight and the offense took care of the football."
The Thunder opened the scoring through a four yard touchdown run from FB John Martinez, causing the crowd at Moda Center to unleash the snowing of nearly 6,000 teddy bears onto the field all while taking 7-0 lead. On the ensuing Sharks drive, starting at their own two-yard line, FB Derrick Ross was hard to stop. The AFL's all-time leading rusher ran for 21 yards on the drive, resulting in a score to tie the game.
Jacksonville struggle early on, however, with penalties in the red zone getting flagged three times in the first quarter, giving the Thunder great chances to score. Kyle Rowley would put the Thunder up 21-14 in the second quarter finding Perez Ashford on a 27 yard touchdown strike. After an exchange of scores, Portland DB Varmah Sonie, in his first action with the Thunder following two stints in the NFL, tipped an offering from Sharks QB Tommy Grady to himself for an interception in the back of the end-zone, providing the Thunder with a chance to take an early two score lead.
On the ensuing possession, AFL sacks leader and Sharks DE Joe Sykes would blindside Rowley, forcing a fumble Sharks DB Alvin Jackson would end up recovering in the end-zone for a score. The sack was Sykes' 16th of the season, tying his own AFL single-season sack record, set in 2012 as a member of the San Jose SaberCats, and helping the Sharks to their first, and only lead of the game at 28-27.
Rowley shook off the cobwebs on the next possession finding WR Jared Perry on a 22 yard touchdown pass, giving the Thunder a 33-28 advantage going into the half.
With the Sharks taking possession to start the third quarter, Thunder DB De'Mon Glanton disrupted the back and forth scoring cycle, forcing a fumble of Jacksonville's All-Arena WR Joe Hills, which was recovered at midfield by Portland DB Bryce Peila. Rowley would convert that turnover into points, finding John Martinez for a 12 yard touchdown pass to put the Thunder up 11. Jacksonville in response to the previous failed drive proceeded to march down the field and score on a two yard touchdown run by Derrick Ross, his second of the game to cut the Thunder lead to four.
The Thunder would push the lead back up to 11 after Rowley hit V'Keon Lacey over the middle, through traffic, for a five yard touchdown pass. That lead did not last long, as Sharks DB/KR
Greg Reid returned the ensuing kickoff 54 yards for the touchdown, shrinking the margin back to four points at 46-42.
The Thunder opened the scoring in the fourth with Rowley finding Perry for their second touchdown connection of the game, putting Portland up 52-42. The Sharks offense then began to sputter. After a both a Jacksonville holding call and false-start penalty, Thunder DE Marquis Jackson sacked Grady, forcing a 4th and 32. Grady would sail the ball into the stands on the next play, turning the ball over on downs to the Thunder and providing a short field to work with.
V'Keon Lacey would snag his second touchdown of the game three plays later, pushing the Thunder lead to 17. The lead continued to grow as Portland DB Andre' Martin, on the ensuing kickoff, stripped Reid, and recovered the ball in the end zone, putting Portland up 65-42. Each team would tack on scores late, with a five yard TD run from Martinez setting the new franchise record for points in a game.
The Thunder travel to San Jose next week, taking on the 14-1 SaberCats for the third and final time in 2015. Kickoff is set for 7:30PM from the SAP Center.
RUSSELL ATHLETIC OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME- PDX QB Kyle Rowley
RIDDELL DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME- PDX DB Varmah Sonie
J. LEWIS SMALL PLAYMAKER OF THE GAME- PDX WR V'Keon Lacey
CUTTERS CATCH OF THE GAME- PDX WR Jared Perry 18yd One Hand Catch in First Quarter
AFL HIGHLIGHT OF THE GAME- JAX DL Joe Sykes Record Tying Sack in Second Quarter
Images from this story
• Discuss this story on the Arena Football League message board...
Arena Football League Stories from July 12, 2015
- Shock Fail to Complete Comeback Fall to KISS 34-28 - Spokane Shock
- Thunder Breaks Franchise Point Records in 72-48 Win over Jacksonville - Portland Thunder
- Mistakes Prove Costly as Sharks Fall in Portland, 72-48 - Jacksonville Sharks
The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.
Other Recent Portland Thunder Stories
- The OSC Interview: Portland Arena Football Coach Ron James
- Portland Announces Ron James as Head Coach, General Manager
- AFL Takes over Operations of Portland Thunder
- Terry Emmert Statement Regarding Meadowlark Lemon
- Meadow Lemon Issues Statement on Passing of Meadowlark Lemon