PORTLAND, Ore. (July 26, 2014) – The Spokane Shock (11-7) closed out their 2014 regular season with a 45-40 victory over the Portland Thunder (5-13) on Saturday night in the Moda Center.
Spokane starting quarterback Brian Zbydniewski finished the game 22-37 for 259 yards and five touchdowns through the air. Shock wide receiver Rashaad Carter continued his strong rookie campaign with a seven reception game for 91 yards and two touchdowns.
Portland quarterback Darron Thomas was held to 19 completions on 41 attempts for 200 yards and four touchdowns with three interceptions. Jamar Howard led the Thunder receiving corps with seven catches for 69 yards and one score.
A Shock fumbled snap on the first play of the game led to the Thunder taking a 7-0 lead on Thomas’ 1-yard touchdown run to the left side. Spokane answered quickly, though, with Zbydniewski finishing off the following drive with a 16-yard touchdown strike to Nick Truesdell, tying the game 7-7. Spokane defensive back Bryant Nnabuife intercepted Thomas in the end zone to squash a Thunder scoring opportunity on the ensuing drive. A pair of turnovers on down closed out the first quarter with the score knotted up at 7-7.
Spokane opened up the second quarter with a score when Zbydniewski hit a wide-open Carter over the middle of the field before sprinting into the end zone untouched to grab a 14-7 lead. With the Thunder threatening on the next drive, Shock defensive back Paul Stephens grabbed an interception in the end zone to negate the opportunity. Taylor Rowan extended the Shock lead to 17-7 on a 21-yard field goal after a good drive stalled out. Portland answered on their next possession when Thomas took a designed run off the right side in for a score; the missed extra point that followed kept the Shock up by four at 17-13. An interception thrown by Zbydniewski and an incomplete Thunder pass attempt as time expired sent the Shock into the locker room leading 17-13.
Thomas and the Thunder took the lead back early in the second half when he found Douglas McNeil III on a 27-yard touchdown pass to go up 20-17. After advancing the ball out to midfield on their next opportunity the Shock faced 3rd and 10 when Zbydniewski scrambled left and threw an interception to Thunder defensive back Eric Crocker, who returned the ball to the Spokane 11 yard line. Two plays later the Thunder capitalized with a touchdown from Thomas to Howard, putting Portland up 27-17 with just under three minutes left in the third quarter. Spokane would not go away quietly, though, as they struck for another touchdown on their next possession when Carter took a Zbydniewski 26 yards to the end zone, cutting the Thunder lead to 27-24.
Terrance Sanders opened the final quarter with back-to-back heroic plays, breaking up a potential Thunder touchdown and hauling in a 16-yard pick-six to give the Shock the lead back 31-27. The Spokane defense forced a turnover on downs their next time out and gave the offense a chance to capitalize. After marching down to the Thunder 13 yard line Zbydniewski tossed a pass to a wide open Tennell over the middle who walked into the end zone to extend the Shock lead to 38-27. Portland capped their next drive with a 12-yard touchdown pass off a screen play to offensive lineman Stanley Daniels, pulling Portland with four at 38-34. After a slow start to their next drive the Shock managed to find the end zone on a 39-yard pass from Zbydniewski to Mike Washington, giving Spokane a 45-34 edge with just over three minutes left in the game. The Thunder closed out the scoring in the final minute on a touchdown pass from Thomas to Kevin Cummings, but a failed two-point conversion would keep the final score at 45-40.
Next up for the Shock is a playoff matchup on the road with the San Jose SaberCats on Saturday, August 2 at 7:00 p.m. PDT.