Brackett, Massachusetts deny Sharks in home opener – The Florida Times-Union
Clayton Freeman @CFreemanJAX
Sean Brackett didn’t stay long in Jacksonville the first time.
But on his Florida return, he found a way to bite his former team.
Massachusetts Pirates quarterback Brackett, returning to the field he once called home, led the expansion team to an upset 63-56 victory and spoiled the Jacksonville Sharks’ home opener Saturday night at Veterans Memorial Arena.
Brackett connected with Devonn Brown on the game-winning 25-yard touchdown pass with 8.1 seconds left, sending the crowd of 6,258 fans home with disappointment.
The Sharks had just taken the lead seconds earlier, when Antonio Vaughan caught his fourth touchdown of the night on a 30-yard reception from former Mandarin High School star Ryan Walker.
Toby Jackson clinched the Pirates’ victory by blocking a 50-yard Nick Belcher field goal try and returning it for a touchdown as time expired.
Brackett passed for five touchdowns and ran for another to make the first-year Pirates the first 2-0 team in the National Arena League. The quarterback was a member of the Sharks during the 2016 season, although he saw very limited playing time as a backup to then-starter Tommy Grady.
Massachusetts, with several proven performers – center Cornelius Lewis formerly anchored the Sharks’ championship line, while defensive back Demetruce McNeal was once the second-leading tackler at Auburn – showed they were a match for the reigning National Arena League champions.
Antonio Vaughan caught four touchdowns for Jacksonville, but an off night from all-NAL kicker Belcher (three missed extra points) and several breakdowns in coverage proved too much to overcome.
Jacksonville also lost starting quarterback Patrick McCain to an apparent leg injury in the fourth quarter.
The result further built on the impressions from the season’s start: The Sharks (1-1) can’t expect to romp to victory as smoothly as last year, and