Jacksonville Sharks Win Arena Title Over Columbus Lions

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The Jacksonville Sharks dominated the first-year National Arena League (NAL) after jumping from the Arena Football League (AFL) and completed their run by defeating the Columbus Lions in front of 9,730 fans.

It looked like the Sharks (13-1) would run away with the game and title when they jumped out to a 20-7 lead in the third quarter when backup quarterback Jason Boltus came in for the injured Damien Fleming and tossed a touchdown pass to Maurice Williams with 1:33 left in the quarter.

After Columbus scored a touchdown to pull within 20-14, Boltus came back into the game and led a scoring drive that ended with a touchdown pass to Devin Wilson.   The Lions again responded with another touchdown to stay within 27-21.

In the final minute, the Lions (10-4) were driving down to field threatening when Defensive Linemen Jermiah Price recovered a fumble with four seconds left to seal the win for the Sharks.  Price was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.

The Sharks become the second former AFL team to win a title in their new league.   The Arizona Rattlers won the Indoor Football League crown last week.

The NAL announced some of its teams and markets for its second season in 2018. The league had eight teams last season, but only the Columbus Lions, Georgia Firebirds, High Country Grizzlies, Jacksonville Sharks, Lehigh Valley Steelhawks and Monterrey Steel will return. The Corpus Christi Rage and the Dayton Wolfpack travel team, which was based out of Atlanta as the Atlanta Wolfpack and then the Georgia Doom, will not return in 2018. A previously announced expansion team called the Jersey Flight (Trenton) has been added, along with an announcement this week of teams in the markets of Boston, Providence (RI), Richmond (VA) and Orlando. The Richmond team will be the Richmond Roughriders who were part of the 2017 league known as Arena Pro Football, which is changing to the American Arena League for 2018 after a merger with the Can-Am Indoor Football League. The Orlando market was home to the Orlando Predators team, which last played as part of the Arena Football League in the 2016 season. The NAL plans to finalize more markets in the near future and all teams must have leases in place by mid-August.

The Obscure Sports Report

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Major League Lacrosse (MLL) – The Denver Outlaws opened the league’s 16th season with a 13-12 win over the Charlotte Hounds in the first week of action.  Mike Bocklet led the defending league champions with four goals and one assist in the win.  Bocklet scored the game winner off of a rebound with 3:57 left.  Other scores from the weekend:  Boston 18, Florida 17 (ot); New York 15, Chesapeake 14 (ot); Ohio 10, Atlanta 9.

Arena Football League (AFL) – The Philadelphia Soul remained undefeated and alone atop the league standings with a 49-31 win over the Washington Valor.  Soul WR Shaun Kauleinamoku led the team with 12 receptions for 125 yards and two touchdowns.  Kauleinamouku broke open the game in the third quarter with a 13 yard reception from QB Dan Raudabaugh for a 35-31 lead.  In other games:  Tampa Bay 62, Cleveland 61

PRO Rugby (PRO) – There is little hope that the league will return for a second season.  There has been a dispute between the league and USA Rugby in sanctioning the league.  There has been no schedule or any signs of the league’s return after a reasonable first season in 2016.  The league had five teams last year with the Denver Stampede winning the title last July.

National Lacrosse League (NLL) –  With two games left in the regular season, Georgia, Saskatchewan, Colorado and Vancouver have clinched playoff berths.  Georgia currently has the league’s best record at 12-4.  All of the other teams are still in playoff contention except for Buffalo and Calgary.

Indoor Football League (IFL) – The Iowa Barnstormers won their fourth straight game with a 31-25 win over the Cedar Rapids Titans in the “Iowa Bowl” last weekend.  The Titans pulled within 24-19 early in the fourth quarter when QB Brion Carnes found Franklyn Williamson for a two-yard TD pass but the Barnstormers came back and answered with a 7-yard run to extend their lead to 31-19.

National Arena League (NAL) – The Columbus (GA) Lions defeated the High Country Grizzlies 57-44 last Saturday to go above .500 on the season at 3-2.  The Lions have struggled after going undefeated last season and winning the league title in another league.  Against the Grizzlies, the Lions receivers dominated the game as Michael Reeve had 104 yards on 10 receptions and two touchdowns and Jarmon Fortson had six receptions for 69 yards and a touchdown.

Arena Pro Football (APF) – The six-team league has announced that it will merge with the Can-Am Indoor Football League in 2018 to form the American Arena League (AAL).  It will initially be split into North and South Divisions.  Here are the current standings in the APF:  Florida Tarpons (3-0), Richmond Rough Riders (2-0), River City Raiders (1-1), Savannah Coastal Outlaws (0-1), Birmingham Outlawz (0-3)

Champions Indoor Football League (CIFL) –  The Sioux City Bandits (6-1) and Amarillo Venom (6-0) lead their respective divisions going into this week’s games.  The Bandits will host the Western Michigan Ironmen (3-4) while the Venom will be on the road to play the Texas Revolution (4-2).

Women’s Football Alliance (WFA) – The Boston Renegades (2-0) remained on top of Division 1 after a thrilling overtime 26-22 win over the DC Divas (2-1).  The Montreal Blitz (2-0) defeated the Maine Mayhem 49-14 to stay on top of Division 2 and the Maine Mayhem (1-1) continues to be the top team in Division 3 after its loss to Montreal.

Central Basketball Association (CBA) – The Illinois Coal Miners ended Ft. Wayne’s 14-game winning streak with a 100-74 win in Danville last weekend.  Tyron Criswell lead the Miners with 30 points for the win.

NBA D-League (NBDL) – The Raptors 905 have forced a third and decisive game in the NBA D-League finals against the Rio Grand Valley Vipers.  Pascal Siakam scored 32 points to help the Raptors to a 95-85 win.   Game three will be Thursday night on ESPNU.

National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) – Jess Fishlock was named the league’s Player of the Week after her performance in a win for the Seattle Reign’s 5-1 win over the Houston Dash.  Fishlock scored the first goal in the 18th minute and then assisted on a Megan Rapinoe’s volley to make it 2-0.  A rebound from another shot led to Beverly Yanez’s goal later to make it 4-0.  Seattle is currently two points behind the North Carolina Courage in the league standings for first place.

Professional Bowler’s Association League (PBA League) – The L.L. Bean PBA League will be playing their tournament over the next few weekends on ESPN.  The teams participating are the Dallas Strikers, New York Kingpins, Philadelphia Hitmen, L.A. X, Motown Muscle, Brooklyn Styles, Silver Lake Atom Splitters, and Portland Lumberjacks