Wheels Fall Off in 2nd Half, Shock Season Ends in Arizona
The 2013 season was one with many highs for the Spokane Shock. Unfortunately, their season could not end on one. The Arizona Rattlers won the rubber match by a score of 65-57, sending the Shock back home with a devastating loss. A strong first half by the Shock was only an aberration. The Rattlers stormed back to close out the second half and dominated the 3rd quarter en route to a commanding victory. A 37-0 run gave the Rattlers enough of a lead to coast into ArenaBowl XXVI with a win.
Spokane came out of the gate on fire. Five first half drives ended with touchdowns on the scoreboard. QB Erik Meyer was hot, throwing only one incompletion the entire half. In addition to an unstoppable offense, the Shock defense was stifling. Arizona’s receivers were blanketed for most of the opening half. But the real heroes were the Shock pass rushers. QB Nick Davila had little time to let any deep routes develop down the field. Five step drops were suicide, with Shock defenders enveloping Davila by the time he hit his fifth step. Spokane managed to build a 35-21 lead as the end of the first half neared.
The second half wound up being a nightmare for the Shock. Arizona came out for the second half with momentum and never relinquished it. The Rattlers received the second half kickoff, and promptly took the 38-35 lead. The following Shock drive stalled, with four consecutive Erik Meyer pass attempts ending with incompletions. Arizona had no such issues with its offense, scoring in one play to take a double-digit lead. Another Shock turnover, this time a Brandon Thompkins fumble, was answered again by six from Davila. The Shock’s once-comfortable 14-point lead had quickly and decisively deteriorated in into a 51-35 hole.
Spokane managed to make it interesting in the closing moments. After recovering an onside kick down by 16, the Shock managed to score a touchdown. The drive though, took far too much time. Only four seconds remained on the clock for the following Shock onside kick. Taylor Rowan’s kick did not go the required ten yards, sealing the Shock’s fate for a painful return flight to Spokane.
It appeared that during the 4th quarter, the Shock were shellshocked. The passion and drive that Spokane had played with all year was completely gone. Although the deficit was daunting, anything can happen in arena football. But the Shock’s approach was lackadaisical at best. Accusing them of quitting wouldn’t be fair. But it was clear that they were seriously shaken during the 4th quarter, and it affected their play in a very negative way. And considering that the Shock had a chance to win but simply ran out of time in the end, this approach can seriously be attributed to the loss.
Thompkins had a game with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. He caught 11 passes for 184 yards and five touchdowns. He was responsible for 24 of the Shock’s first 35 points. But just like the team as a whole, his performance would take a serious turn for the worse. Dropped passes and a fumble will unfortunately be the most memorable part of his performance.
Arizona overcame tremendous first half adversity to carry the day against the Shock in the Snake Pit. The Rattlers have punched their ticket to ArenaBowl XXVI. It’s a familiar feeling for Head Coach Kevin Guy and his squad, having represented the National Conference in the previous three ArenaBowls. The Shock’s quest towards ArenaBowl glory came to a crushing on Saturday evening. But don’t believe anyone who says a season is a failure if it doesn’t end with championship rings. Spokane had a tremendous regular season, notching a 14-4 record and a number of players made the All-Arena team. Meyer’s emergence as one of the league’s top signal callers means the Shock are geared up for another title run in 2014. It will be a long winter in Eastern Washington as they await their next opportunity, but optimism is still present in Deaf Valley.