Thursday, July 1, 2004
By Matthew Gionta
With a spot in the National Indoor Football League playoffs on the line for the CardSharks, they travel down to Florence, South Carolina to face the Rays for the second time in three weeks. The teams met in week 15, with the CardSharks (8-5) defeating the hosting Rays (5-6), by a score of 46-35. The ‘Sharks are coming off a season sweep of the Staten Island Xtreme, as they won 39-6 in their final home game at Boardwalk Hall last Saturday. The Rays traveled to Fort Wayne, IN and lost 48-3 in front of the biggest crowd in NIFL history.
The CardSharks offense compiled 187 yards last time the two teams met, with Running Back Ron Lewis gaining 59 yards on the ground. Quarterback Tony Racioppi was 13 for 23 on the night, with a touchdown. The ‘Sharks special teams star Mike Osborne had 127 kick return yards, including a 50-yard runback for a touchdown. Kicker Matt Magrone added a pair of field goals, and Gunner Wade Fauntleroy made several tackles on the kickoff team.
Defensively, Lineman Brett Kolk, Jamal Naji and Eddie Bynes provided much pressure to the Rays. Naji forced 2 fumbles; Kolk forced another and even recovered one for a touchdown. Cornerback Chonn Lacey recorded 5 solo tackles before pulling his hamstring before the half. Safety Omar Lucas had another strong outing with 5 solo tackles as well.
For the Rays, Quarterback Jimmy Smith threw 3 touchdowns and passed for 147 yards on the night. Rafael Cooper, playing at Wide Receiver and Running Back, made 5 catches for 57 yards in the air, and ran the ball 10 times for 58 yards. Kicker Bruce Reiniecker added 3 field goals.
The CardSharks will continue their run for the 2004 NIFL championship on Saturday, July 3 against the Carolina Rays in Florence.
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