Spokane Shock Grounds Iowa Barnstormers
I was stunned to learn that the Iowa Barnstormers were in familiar territory when it came to playing for sold-out crowds. Their first two home games drew an average of 11,368 fans. Who knew Des Moines even had that many people? I guess I should not be so surprised considering their Head Coach, John Gregory, coached NFL great QB Kurt Warner during his time in the AFL. Perhaps coming to Spokane's Ninth Man is nothing new crowd-wise for the Barnstormers. However, they have not heard the antagonizing roar of the Shock fans against the opposing team. A storm was certainly brewing for tonight's game.
Spokane's defense started the game strong, preventing Iowa from scoring in their first possession of the game. Four Shock defensive linemen were responsible for an early sack of Iowa QB Brian Villanueva.
Davila and company were the first to score in the game. The offense worked their way down the field almost effortlessly, resulting in a 3-yard touchdown reception by WR Charles Dillon.
The lead was short lived. The Shock decided on an on-side kick, which ended up with a Barnstormers possession. This set up for the quick touchdown to tie the game with 5:23 left in the first quarter.
In their next possession, Shock WR Andy Olson was knocked down, forcing a fumble that was recovered by the Barnstormers. They scored quickly and took the lead 14 – 7 over the Shock.
WR Raul “The Thrill” Vijil attempted to revive the team and the crowd with his 25-yard kick return, but it wasn't enough to put another score on the board so late in the first quarter. However, it did set up nicely for the 7-yard touchdown reception by OL John Booker early in the second quarter.
The Shock defense held the Barnstormers to a field goal, but it was enough for Iowa to take the lead for the second time. Fortunately, the Shock offense were able to score on their next possession with a 26-yard touchdown reception by Dillon. This put the Shock back on top 21 – 17.
It was also Dillon that plowed Iowa's kick returner Jordan Davis, stopping him dead in tracks at the 5-yard line. This charged the Shock defense which lead to the sack and subsequent fumble by QB Brian Villaneuva. The fumble was recovered by Shock DL Justin Warren, which led to the 12-yard touchdown reception by WR Andy Olson.
The Barnstormers answered back with another touchdown, closing the gap to just four points, 28 – 24. Spokane tried to come up with another score, but the Barnstormer defense proved to be hard to reckon with, ending the first half with the Shock narrowly leading, 28 – 24.
Apparently Shock Head Coach Adam Shackleford had quite a talk with his team at halftime. Both the offense and defense took to the field with the energy I felt was lacking in the first half. Davila connected with Dillon for a 18-yard touchdown reception and DB Sergio Gilliam came up with an interception, preventing an opportunity for the Barnstormers to score.
Although the Barnstormers did have several opportunities to score, the Shock defense held them to only one touchdown in the third quarter, a 21-yard touchdown reception by WR Errick McCown. The Shock continued to lead at the end of the third quarter, 35 – 30.
Harrison “The Boss” Nikolao scored early in the fourth quarter, a 1-yard touchdown run. Davila connected with WR Olson once again, this time for a 26-yard touchdown reception. The Shock defense held the Barnstormers scoreless in the fourth quarter, at one point pushing them back to 4 and 32.
The Shock remain undefeated with their 49 – 30 over the Iowa Barnstormers. The 10,286 ecstatic Ninth Men in attendance eagerly await to witness another victory when they take on the Boise Burn at home next Saturday, May 9th.
I expected a very interesting game tonight. Barnstormer Head Coach John Gregory has had an impressive career coaching in arena football. After reading some of his achievements, I expected a charged game.
The Barnstormers, as Lori mentioned, has a normal sold out crowd of around 11,000+ fans. So,
I was expecting few false starts on the Barnstormers behalf, which proved true. There were a
few times that the Barnstormers got rattled, but not nearly as bad as some teams have fallen prey
to the Spokane Shock 9th Man.
The first half was insane; insanely flat. I couldn't figure out why. My thought was, two evenly matched teams. Although it fell flat, the first half was not dead. It was lively and plenty of activity. Take a look at these first quarter stats, which shows how the two teams just seemed to be evenly matched in energy:
First Downs 4 3
Rushing Yards 1-8 2-1
Passing Yards 60 58
Total Offense Plays 12-68 yards 9-59 yards
Time of Possession 07:21 07:39
At first I thought, these guys are reading each other well and simply playing good! The Shock also had some mistakes early on that allowed the Barnstormers to capitalize on with their possessions.
However, momentum changed at the beginning of the second half as the Shock offense and defense were fired up. Like Lori, I thought to myself that Shock Head Coach Adam Shackleford really inspired these guys to step it up during half-time. After the game, I discovered the truth when Coach Shackleford said, "These guys are a lot tougher on themselves than I could ever be, which makes a good team."
In the 3rd quarter, both teams stepped it up with less penalties and less mistakes. However, the
Shock defense never allowed the Barnstormers to get in a rhythm. On the other side of the ball, the Shock offense started to click and make the fans roar!
The Shock shut out the Barnstormers in the fourth quarter and pulled ahead with great pass break ups
and tremendous pressure on Barnstormers QB Brian Villanueva.
When asked about the second half momentum shift, Ben McCombs said, "That was the key to the game, adding pressure to the quarterback. He was just sitting back there holding on to the ball too long. We had to do something about it.”
This 2009 team is definitely following the Shock tradition in showing their Ninth Man some electrifying football!
Shawn is in the process of completing and publishing an ebook entitled "The Complete HTPC Guide: Everyone's Guide To Building A Home Theater PC". Shawn has a structured wiring company where he helps homeowners create automated homes through the use of home electronics and computers.
Lori is an aspiring children's writer. After years of being an accomplished QA Analyst for a cutting edge software manufacturer, she now enjoys spending her time with her family and writing.