Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Reeling in a Title; on Final Play of Frenzied Finish, Garcia Hits Harvey for Win

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Reeling in a Title; on Final Play of Frenzied Finish, Garcia Hits Harvey for Win

Article excerpt

Byline: Don Coble

PHOENIX Champions.

Savor it. Embrace it. Celebrate it.

The Arena Football League's championship trophy is heading to the First Coast following the Jacksonville Sharks' 73-70 win Friday night against the Arizona Rattlers.

In one stirring night inside the US Airways Center, the greatest quarterback to ever play the indoor game purged a lifetime of frustration, especially in big games. Aaron Garcia gave 17 seasons of his life to playing in the AFL, and the Sharks and the 40-year-old gave each other something that will last forever - a championship.

Garcia threw a 10-yard touchdown pass on the final play of the game to Jeron Harvey for a fitting end to a spectacular season. The man who threw for more than 50,000 yards in his career put his legacy and a city's hopes on a single throw.

Harvey, a Jacksonville native who played at Jackson High, caught it in the right side of the end zone, triggering a celebration that included these encouraging words:

"One play, one touchdown," Garcia said. "We thought it would come down to that. Now that I've won it, I might want to come back and win another one next year."

A franchise in its second year of existence was never in better hands. Garcia never flinched, even with the overwhelming majority of 14,320 fans cheering against him. He completed 28-of-42 passes for 402 yards and eight touchdowns.

The team dedicated itself since training camp to getting Garcia his first championship ring. After the game, he dedicated the win to Jacksonville.

A lost fumble inside the 5-yard line and four missed PAT kicks made it tough, but Micheaux Robinson's interception with 7:53 remaining was a stunning turnaround for Jacksonville. Once Robinson gave the Sharks a chance, Garcia did the rest.

The Sharks scored three times in the final 61 seconds, none bigger than Garcia's final throw.

"The play was supposed to go to Jomo [Wilson], but they jumped him," Harvey said. "When they double-teamed him, I sat back and I was wide open.

"On that last drive, AG [Garcia] was confident. He didn't say anything in the huddle before the play other than calling the play."

"Actually, I was nervous as [heck]," Garcia said. "I've trusted these guys all year long. This is as good as it gets."

Garcia was named the game's most valuable player.

Arizona scored on its first drive on a 2-yard run by Odie Armstrong with 10:58 remaining in the first quarter. Garcia came back with his first throw to complete a 41-yard touchdown pass to Wilson. Marco Capozzoli's kick sliced wide left, and the Rattlers led 7-6.

After the teams traded touchdowns - and Capozzoli missed another kick - the Sharks broke through by forcing a fumble by Virgil Gray at the Jacksonville 13 with Capozzoli making the recovery.

The Sharks received two huge breaks on the following drive when Kirby Griffin recovered his own fumble at the 1-yard line. …

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