SPOKANE, WA (April 19, 2014) – The Spokane Shock (3-2) suffered a heartbreaking 52-50 loss at the hands of the Cleveland Gladiators (5-0) on Saturday night in front of 8,597 orange-clad Shock fans in Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena.
Battling back from a tumultuous third quarter, the Shock found themselves leading 46-50 with 10 seconds remaining on the clock. However, Gladiators backup quarterback Chris Dieker would move the ball down to their own 21 yard line before delivering the winning touchdown pass to Thyron Lewis off the net.
After starting the game out with a long play through the air, a series of mistakes by the Cleveland offense eventually led to the Gladiators settling for a field goal on their opening drive. The Shock responded on their next drive with an Erik Meyer 3-yard touchdown run, something that has become commonplace this season. The Gladiators opened the ensuing drive with great field position, starting on their own 19 yard line. They would capitalize on the opportunity when Austin hit Collins over the middle for a touchdown, putting Cleveland back on top 10-3. Meyer’s second rushing touchdown of the night concluded the first quarter of play, putting the Shock up 14-10.
Cleveland opened the second quarter with another drive marred by mistakes that ended with Austin’s first interception of the season in the end zone to Terrance Sanders. The Shock would take advantage of the rare mistake by Austin by striking for a 3-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Thompkins from Meyer. The two-possession lead for Spokane wouldn’t stand for long with Austin finding Taylor for a touchdown to bring the score to 21-17. The Shock would extend their lead back out to two possession on the final drive when Meyer found Thompkins again in the end zone. The score gave Spokane a 28-17 lead heading into halftime.
The beginning of the second half could not have been worse to the Shock, who saw their lead slip away after two costly mistakes in only four minutes. On only the second play of the half the Cleveland defense forced Meyer into an interception that was returned to the Shock 13 yard line. The touchdown pass from Austin to Goodman that followed would cut the Shock lead to 28-23. On the ensuing kickoff return Terrance Sanders would cough up the ball, a call that was initially ruled down on the field but was overturned after a successful Cleveland challenge. The Gladiators punched in a quarterback sneak for a touchdown to take their first lead since the opening drive of the game. The Shock looked to punch back on the following drive but were turned away when a Meyer pass was intercepted and returned the distance, extending Cleveland’s lead to 36-28. On the final drive of the third quarter the Shock finally fought back and the end zone with Meyer finding Thompkins from 5 yards out, pulling Spokane within one.
The Shock entered the final quarter of play down 36-35 and looking to make a statement comeback. However, the Gladiators would score first with a 28-yard touchdown strike from Austin to Lewis. Putting the failures of the third quarter behind them, the Shock moved the ball into the end zone on the following drive to tie the game up at 43-43. The touchdown pass from Meyer to Thompkins was the fourth time the duo connected for a score in the game. Moving to quarterback Chris Dieker, the Gladiators broke the tie on a 22-yard field goal with 43 seconds remaining on the clock. The Shock offense went back to work from their own 10 yard line with under a minute to go. After a completion and penalty moved the Shock down to the Cleveland 9 yard line, Meyer found Edwards wide open across the middle for the go-ahead touchdown, putting Spokane up 46-50 with 10 seconds left. But the Gladiators would not be silenced yet, moving the ball to their own 21 yard line with just over one second left to play. On the final play of the game Dieker threw a pass into the right net that fell into the hands of Lewis for the game-winning touchdown. The knee down on the extra point that followed would produce the final score of 52-50 in favor of the Gladiators.
Meyer ended the night 24-34 through the air for 252 yards and five touchdowns with two interceptions. Four of Meyer’s touchdown passes went the Thompkins, who recorded a game-leading 12 receptions for 128 yards.
For the Gladiators, Austin would go 19-35 with two interceptions and four touchdowns with 196 yards. Goodman led Cleveland’s receiver with 10 catches for 81 yards and one touchdown.
The Shock now begin a two-game road streak beginning with the Tampa Bay Storm on Saturday, April 26 at 4:30 p.m.
Spokane’s next home game comes on Friday, May 9 when the Pittsburgh Power come to Spokane Arena.