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Shock Dominant in Season Opener

Jeffrey Giuliani
Sunday March 16, 2014

In their season and home opener, the Spokane Shock rolled over the Iowa Barnstormers 64-35. Spokane started slow, but ended up taking over in the second half and cruised to its first victory of 2014.

Things started poorly for the Shock. The Barnstormers quickly scored a touchdown after the Shock deferred the coin toss. On the Shock’s first offensive play of the season, Erik Meyer was sacked in the endzone for a safety. Meyer said that the team was just a little too excited out of the gate and mistakes resulted.

Iowa blew its chance to take a 16-0 lead after the Spokane defense tightened up and forced a turnover on downs. The Shock took advantage and scored their first touchdown of the season. Iowa answered with another touchdown, but the PAT snap was fumbled and returned for two points by Diyral Briggs.

That mistake was a sign of things to come for Iowa on Saturday evening. The Shock would begin to dominate the Barnstormers in every phase of the game. The Shock closed out the half with two touchdowns, including a momentum shifting missed FG return for a touchdown by Terrance Sanders as time expired.

Iowa scored on its first possession of the 2nd half. That would be the last meaningful score of its night, as its other scores were made in garbage time. The Shock defense dominated the second half. They held QB Carson Coffman to only 21 completions on 40 passing attempts and three touchdowns. Spokane took advantage of Iowa turnovers and completely took over the game.

However, nobody seemed particularly pleased with the performance. Andy Olson was less than hesitant to dole out too much praise for his team’s play on Saturday. Asked if he was happy with his team’s performance, Olson responded, “Uh, happy is a tough word.” Olson followed with, “When you win by 30 and you play the way we did which isn’t good Shock football, it tells you that you’ve got a good team.”

A big problem for the Shock was along the offensive line. A huge portion of Meyer’s 2013 MVP season was due to a stalwart offensive line that kept him upright. They didn’t get the job done tonight. Meyer was sacked four times in the first half. Meyer, being a good teammate and leader, shouldered the blame for some of the sacks.

However, Olson was quick to point out that the offensive line issues will have to be solved in a hurry. “It’s not going to happen again,” he declared. “We’re facing a much better pass rush this week and we have to figure out what’s going on up front.”

Sanders once again blew the roof off the Spokane Arena in dramatic fashion. As time expired in the first half, Iowa was attempting a long field goal. The attempt was wide and fielded cleanly by Sanders, who took it the distance.

Sanders discussed the momentum swing associated with those types of plays, stating that, “We finally got ahead, then we pushed ahead by two scores. Any time you can be up by two scores is huge in this game.”

The debut of the Shock’s offense with the new addition of Mike Washington was a bit of a disappointment. They were not clicking. Meyer discussed his first game with Washington, saying, “He’s a talented receiver. Obviously we have some things to work out as far as timing, but that’ll come.”

This was a classic Shock win, reminiscent of many 2013 games. They allowed their opponent to hang around for the first half and then took complete control in the second. Next week, they face a much tougher test in the Arizona Rattlers. The Shock will need to play much better if they expect to defeat the Rattlers in Phoenix. The rematch of the last year’s National Conference Championship is set to kick off on March 23rd at 3:00 P.M. PST.

Jeffrey Giuliani is a sports journalist from Renton, Washington. He is a senior at Western Washington Univeristy where he is studying journalism. Giuliani is currently the sports editor for his college paper, The Western Front and hopes to move on to a daily after obtaining his degree. This will be his third season covering the Spokane Shock for ArenaFan.
The opinions expressed in the article above are only those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts, opinions, or official stance of ArenaFan Online or its staff, or the Arena Football League, or any AFL or af2 teams.
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