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Portland drops heartbreaker in Spokane, loses 42-40

Sunday July 26, 2015

 SPOKANE – Thunder WR/KR Duane Brooks returned a fourth quarter kickoff 57 yards for a touchdown, tying the AFL single-season kick return touchdown record, but that wasn’t enough to overcome a scoreless third quarter as Portland narrowly fell to the Spokane Shock, 42-40, in front of 8,357 at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena Saturday evening.


The return was Brooks’ seventh of the 2015 season, bringing him level with Lamont Cooper and Antonio Chatman, who originally set their marks in 2000, and 2003 respectively.


Despite jumping out to an early two touchdown lead for the second straight week, the Thunder were held off the scoreboard for 31:40 between the second and fourth quarters, allowing rookie QB Arvell Nelson and the Shock offense to regain a foothold in the game.


Portland took a 20-7 lead through hot starts on both sides of the ball. Rowley was 13-of-14, for 116 yards over the Thunder’s first three drives, all of which ended in touchdowns, while the defense forced turnovers on two of the Shock’s first four drives.


But the game then turned when on the offensive possession following DL Frank Trotter’s fumble recovery, the second of those two turnovers, the Thunder were unable to convert in the red-zone, turning the ball back over to Spokane on downs.


“We came out and executed the way we prepared to all week in practice,” Brooks said after the loss. “Unfortunately, we weren’t able to hold that momentum. We did some good things in the first half, but we couldn’t put our foot on the neck, and finish the game.”


Spokane would go on to score 25 points unanswered, starting with a 13 yard touchdown pass from Nelson to WR Nick Truesdell nine plays after the turnover on downs.


“We didn’t make enough plays,” head coach Mike Hohensee stated. “We came down at the end, though, and had a two-point conversion play we thought would work, and it did, before we were given the penalty call. We tried to erase that from our minds, and went to the next play, but unfortunately it wasn’t there.”


The Thunder found themselves down eight with 00:29 seconds left in the fourth quarter, when a 25 yard touchdown pass from Rowley to WR Jared Perry set the Thunder up with a potential game tying two-point conversion situation. A pass from Rowley to a wide open WR V’Keon Lacey was converted, but the play was blown dead for a false start, with referee Scott Campbell alleging that C John Collins moved the ball before the snap.


The ensuing conversion attempt failed, forcing the Thunder to attempt an onside kick, which was recovered by Spokane’s Truesdell, setting the Shock up to run out the remaining time on the clock.


Rowley finished the evening 24/38, for 241 yards, and four TD’s. His counterpart, Nelson, ended 20-of-31 passing, for 177 yards, and two scores, adding another two touchdowns on the ground.


Perry led all receivers in yards and touchdown receptions, with 86 yards and two scores from 6 catches. DB De’Mon Glanton forced a turnover for the third game running with his first quarter interception of Nelson. Glanton also added six tackles and two pass break ups on the night.


The loss leaves the Thunder’s National Conference playoff hopes in the balance, now needing wins over both the Las Vegas Outlaws and the Arizona Rattlers in their final two games of the 2015 AFL season. A loss by either the LA KISS or another by the Outlaws during that time may also be needed for the chance to qualify.

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