PHOENIX -- The Spokane Shock (15-5, 4-2) traveled to Phoenix, AZ this week to face off against the Arizona Rattlers (17-3, 4-2) for the National Conference Championship. The Shock were able to take the early lead in the first quarter but a resilient Arizona squad aided by defensive turnovers in the second half were able to close out the 65-57 victory, ending the Shock’s season and punching their ticket to the 2013 ArenaBowl in Orlando, FL next weekend against the Philadelphia Soul.
First quarter action opened with the Shock scoring on a three-play opening drive to take the early 7-0 lead on a 2-yard quarterback sneak by Erik Meyer. The two teams would on to trade scores on a short touchdown pass from Arizona quarterback Nick Davila to Tysson Poots and Spokane responding with a one-play drive on a 45-yard touchdown pass from Erik Meyer to Brandon Thompkins. The Shock defense would make their presence known early coming up with a sack by Jeremy Geathers to force a turnover on downs, setting up an 11-yard touchdown pass from Meyer to Thompkins to give Spokane the 21-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The league’s top two offenses would continue back and forth scoring in the second quarter. Arizona fullback Odie Armstrong hauled in a short screen pass from Davila and would rumble 15-yards to the end zone to bring the game back within one score at 21-14. The Shock would respond with a 17-yard touchdown pass from Erik Meyer to Brandon Thompkins before Arizona defensive back Arkeith Brown would return the ensuing kickoff for the Rattler touchdown. Once again Erik Meyer would find Brandon Thompkins for the Shock score, coming on an 8-yard touchdown pass to put the game at 35-21. Arizona would go on to score on a 11-yard touchdown pass from Davila to Poots before recovering an onside kick with 55 seconds remaining in the half to set up a field goal as time expired as the two teams would go into the half with the Shock leading 35-31.
Shock quarterback Erik Meyer completed 11 of 12 pass attempts for 191 yards and 4 touchdowns in the first half, while Arizona quarterback Nick Davila completed 14 of 27 attempts for 157 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Shock defense put pressure on the Rattlers offense early, forcing a turnover on downs on Arizona’s second drive of the game. While Spokane was able to take the early lead, penalties were costly in the first half as the Shock were hit nine times with flags versus Arizona’s two.
As second half action continued, Arizona would open with a barrage of touchdowns and turnovers against Spokane. After opening the half with a 44-yard touchdown pass from Davila to Purify the Rattlers would force a turnover on downs against the Shock offense to set up a Rod Windsor touchdown reception, extending the Arizona lead to 44-35 after a missed PAT. On Spokane’s next possession a short pass completion would be fumbled by receiver Brandon Thompkins to give Arizona possession on the Spokane 11-yard line resulting in a touchdown pass from Davila to Purify. Before the quarters end Arizona would intercept a down field pass by Erik Meyer, ending the third quarter with the Rattlers on top 51-35.
In the final quarter of play, Arizona would continue their drive from the third quarter and score on a 3-yard touchdown pass from Davila to Poots. Spokane would respond with their first score of the second half coming on a touchdown pass from Erik Meyer to Brandon Thompkins to leave the Shock trailing 42-58 with just under ten minutes remaining. After failing to recover the onside kick attempt, the Rattlers would take advantage of the short field and quickly score on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Davila to Reed. The Shock would drive the length of the field but would come up short on a 4th down pass attempt and would turn the ball over on downs to Arizona on the 4-yard line. Attempting to rally the Shock defense would dig in and hold the Rattlers to a long field goal attempt which would be missed, setting up a 32-yard touchdown pass from Meyer to Tennell with the Rattlers leading 65-49 with 45 seconds remaining. Spokane would go on to recover the ensuing onside kick attempt as Terrance Sanders would scoop up the ball and take it to the Arizona 18-yard line, allowing Erik Meyer to connect with Adron Tennell one final time but after failing to recover the onside kick the Rattlers would run out the clock to seal the 65-57 win.
Shock quarterback Erik Meyer completed 24 of 41 pass attempts for 344 yards and 7 touchdowns while adding one score on the ground. Brandon Thompkins led the Shock receiving effort as he hauled in 11 receptions for 184 yards and five touchdowns while Adron Tennell also caught 11 passes for 125 yards and two scores. James Ruffin led the Shock defensive effort, recording 1.5 sacks on the night.
Arizona quarterback Nick Davila completed 24 of 42 pass attempts for 294 yards and 8 touchdowns. Davila completed touchdown passes to five different receiers on the night as Tysson Poots led the Rattlers with 9 receptions for 96 yards and three touchdowns. Maurice Purify assisted with 6 receptions for 104 yards and two scores while Rod Windsor added 7 receptions for 68 yards and 2 touchdowns. Odie Armstrong and Kerry Reed also added one receiving touchdown each. Rattler defensive back Jeremy Kellem recorded the lone interception on the night.
The Shock’s season comes to an end with an overall record of 15-5, as Spokane falls to Arizona in the National Conference Championship game.