TUCSON, Arizona – The Tucson SugarSkulls ended a four-game losing streak and put themselves in control of their playoff fate with a 54-34 victory over theSan Diego Strike Force before a crowd of 4,075 at Tucson Arena on Saturday.
The Sugar Skulls hadn’t seen the win column since late March, the last time they played the Strike Force. But the victory, combined with a loss by the QuadCity Steamwheelers put Tucson in sole possession of sixth place which is the final playoff spot.“It’s a new season every week now,” said head Coach Marcus Coleman. “We have an opportunity to win some games and continue to keep us in the playoff hunt.
As long as we keep coming out and taking care of business, we should be okay.”The Sugar Skulls blazed out of the starting box when Jeremiah Harris, playing in his first professional football game, returned the opening kickoff 39 yards to the Strike Force 11. It took the sugar Skulls only one play to score when quarterback Jake Medlock connected with Rico Brown for a touchdown, the first of three TD catches for Brown.
The Strike Force answered with a touchdown, but Harris sparked the Sugar Skulls again with a kick return to the San Diego 13. Medlock connected with Brown again to put the Sugar Skulls back on top. Tucson then put up 27 points in the second quarter on the way to a 41-21 halftime lead and they were not threatened the rest of the way. The Sugar Skulls defense stiffened in the second half, holding San Diego scoreless in the third quarter, and Tucson led 47-21 headed to the fourth.“For the most part, we covered well. We tackled well. There were no blown assignments,” Coleman said of his defense. “I thought we had a decent night.”Medlock ran the offense until late in the third quarter, completing 14 of 20 passes for 90 yards and four touchdowns. He also ran for two touchdowns.
The two teams will make a quick turnaround and face each other again on Thursday in San Diego. It will be the last of four meetings between the two teams this season. The Sugar Skulls have won all three meetings. Malique Belfort celebrates his third-quarter touchdown that gave the Sugar Skulls a 47-21 lead.
Notes & Numbers
• Jeremiah Harris joined the team on Monday and made an immediate impact with three kick returns for 105 yards, each time giving the Sugar Skulls possession inside the San Diego 20-yard line. After the three returns, the Strike Force elected to not give him any more opportunities and the remaining kickoffs all went out of play giving the Sugar Skulls field position at midfield.
• Another newcomer, defensive back Kasey Johnson led the team with seven tackles including one tackle for a loss.
• Defensive back Cam Gaddis returned to the lineup after sitting out last week and grabbed his third interception of the season. He now leads the team in that category.
• Shaq Curenton stretched his team lead in touchdown catches with a TD catch from Medlock in the second quarter. He now has 11.