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Shock Rebound, Conquer SaberCats

Jeffrey Giuliani
Saturday April 5, 2014

 This was about as important as a week four matchup could possibly be. The Spokane Shock, coming off its bye week, soundly defeated the San Jose SaberCats 73-62. The game wasn’t as close as the final score would indicate. Spokane maintained a two possession lead for most of the second half and the SaberCats never came terribly close to overcoming it.

Spokane jumped to an early 14 point lead in the contest. It scored on its first possession, then turned a Russ Michna interception into another touchdown. Later, the Shock extended the lead to 21 when DL Diyral Briggs picked up a San Jose fumble and returned it for a score.
The SaberCats closed in on the Shock lead before halftime. Two consecutive touchdowns after the Shock failed to score with 17 seconds remaining cut the Shock lead to seven. San Jose was in a perfect spot. By deferring the first half kickoff, they would get the ball to start the 3rd quarter and could tie the game.

Terrance Sanders, Spokane’s electric return man, had other ideas. As the first half’s final seconds ticked down, Sanders took the kickoff back 55 yards for a score and extended the Shock lead back to 14. The effect was nearly identical to what happened in the season opener when Sanders scored before halftime. Momentum completely swung to the Shock going into the break and it canceled out the previous score by their opponent. Sanders also had an impressive interception later in the game.

The bye week, though early in the season, came at a perfect time. The Shock looked lethargic in Arizona and they were handily defeated. This Shock team looked well rested and got back to what makes them great: a potent offense and timely turnovers.

QB Erik Meyer did his best Russell Wilson impression on Friday evening, defeating his opponent with a combination of efficient passing and running ability. He passed for 258 yards and 4 touchdowns while completing 67% of his passes. He added 31 yards and 4 touchdowns on the ground. Meyer continues to impress as an arena football quarterback. He has great pocket awareness and consistently eludes defenders while still keeping his eyes down field. His quick release allows him to get the ball out once he’s made a decision and he can throw from many platforms. Injuries slowed down Meyer’s rise to the top, but it was well worth the wait.

After being mercilessly dissected by Arizona last week, the Shock defense rebounded. They picked off Russ Michna three times, including two by Terence Moore. After being ejected last week for throwing a punch, Moore stepped up.

Spokane also showed that it has some real depth on its roster. After a Paul Stephens injury, head coach Andy Olson had to shift some players around. He moved WR Brandon Thompkins to DB and backup WR Rashaad Carter into the vacated receiver spot. Each played well. Although Olson lost Arvell Nelson, his utility man, in the Mike Washington trade, there is still some good ironman depth on the squad.

The Shock mini-crisis is over. Faced with the potential of starting the season 1-2 with losses to their two biggest rivals, the Shock turned in a classic win. They scored when they needed to and came up with enough plays on defense to stay ahead on the scoreboard. Next week brings a unique challenge in the Portland Thunder. They have yet to win a game. However, filled with arena football rookies and a coach in Matt Sauk that knows the Shock very well, they’ve still proven to be a scrappy bunch. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m. PST on April 12th.  

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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