Shock Demolish Talons, Clinch 3rd Seed
The Spokane Shock have made a habit out of humiliating their opposition. Their last four contests have ended with wins of 14 points or more. The trend continued on Friday. The visiting San Antonio Talons came to Spokane with hopes of a division title. They left with their collective tails between their legs in the aftermath of a 77-30 thrashing at the hands of the surging Shock.
Early in the game, the Talons were playing well. They even managed a 10-0 lead over the Shock, after they scored on their opening drive and the Shock turned the ball over on a four and out. The Talons' chance to go up 14-0 was blown after the Shock defense held strong and limited San Antonio to a field goal. Everything would soon unravel for the hapless Talons in a raucous Spokane Arena.
Talons quarterback Rohan Davey had just won AFL MVP of the Week in his previous game. But by the end of Friday evening, he was a broken shell of a player who looked like he wanted to get out of Spokane without getting hurt. Things started well enough, with 17 points on his first three drives. But then the Spokane defense was unleashed. Turnovers started mounting for the AFL veteran, who couldn’t get anything going against the stingy Shock defense. Davey finished the contest with five interceptions and three fumbles. Shock DB Paul Stephens was asked if he could see Davey losing confidence throughout the game. He responded, “Oh absolutely. By the third quarter, he was tired of getting hit and throwing picks. We knew we would just sail on through after that.”
Speaking of Stephens, the Central Missouri State product has been playing like a ball hawk all season. He has picked of twelve passes in 2013, which is ranked second in the AFL. He wasn’t the only defensive player having a field day against the Talons. Terence Moore had an interception himself, a tremendous leaping grab that he returned for a touchdown. He’s also been a playmaker on defense, recovering five fumbles and scoring two defensive touchdowns this season.
Andy Olson couldn’t say enough good things about the defense after the game. He said, “The pressure really caused turnovers tonight. D-line was getting to the quarterback, he was throwing the ball up and DBs were making plays. It was a great, all around defensive effort.”
Similar to last week’s win in Jacksonville, the offense had a quiet night on the stat sheet. Erik Meyer completed only eight passes for 155 yards and four touchdowns, but he was pulled late in the third quarter for backup Arvell Nelson. Wide receiver numbers were similarly modest, with no receiver going over 75 yards on the night. When the defense plays as well as they have been the last few weeks, it takes an immense amount of pressure off the offense.
Meyer was asked what it’s like when the defense plays so well. His response came with a smirk, “It’s fun. Fun and easy. I love coming out just to hold the PAT. It’s awesome to see the defense scoring like that, makes our job a lot easier.”
The Shock can now breathe easy. The San Jose Sabercats, who have been clawing at the Shock’s heels for weeks, finally lost. They were pummeled by the Philadelphia Soul, thus sealing their fate as the 4th seed. As a result, Spokane has clinched the 3rd seed in the National Conference. Better yet, it has also clinched a home playoff game. Chicago clinched the Central Division on Saturday and should be hosting the Shock. However, Chicago’s arena issues will not allow it to host a playoff game, meaning the game is moved to Spokane. Deaf Valley will be in full effect once Chicago rolls around, but the Shock still have one more home game on their regular season slate against the Pittsburgh Power. A mostly meaningless game for both teams as far as the postseason is concerned, it’s still important that the Shock carry their winning streak and momentum into the playoffs. Kickoff in Spokane is set for July 26th at 7:00 PM PST.