SPOKANE --The Spokane Shock saw their 22-point lead nearly evaporate in the final minute, but held on for a 63-60 victory against the Chicago Rush Saturday night.
Coming into the game, Chicago’s defense stole all the headlines holding its previous opponents to an average of only 45.7 points per game. But, Saturday night it was Spokane’s defense that proved to be the difference in the game.
Chicago drew first blood on its opening possession, with a 17-yard pass from QB Russ Michna to WR Reggie Gray for a touchdown. Spokane QB Erik Meyer fired back and led Spokane’s offense on a four-play drive that was capped off by Emery Sammons on a six-yard touchdown reception.
In the second quarter, WR Markee White recorded his first touchdown of the game on a 15-yard reception from Meyer that gave the Shock its first lead of the game, 21-20. The teams continued to exchange touchdowns until Spokane’s LB Antwan Marsh recorded his first interception of the season. Four plays later, Marsh, who was awarded the Ironman of the Game, scampered into the endzone on a two-yard rushing touchdown.
Spokane’s defense continued to add to the highlight reel, when the Defensive Player of the Game Jon Williams dropped Michna for a six-yard loss. Williams’ sack forced a fumble that DL Jonathan Williams recovered in the endzone for a touchdown and the final score of the first half. At the break, Spokane had a 42-27 lead.
In the third quarter, Spokane’s defense continued to pad its stats with their second interception of the game, thanks to DB Terrance Sanders. On the ensuing drive, Meyer returned the favor and threw an interception that fell into the hands of DB Perry Kyles. Meyer made a touchdown saving tackle, but was injured on the play. After lying on the field for several minutes, Meyer was helped off the field and did not return. Meyer finished the night with 15/19 (78%) for 202 passing yards and five touchdowns.
Chicago’s offense capitalized on the turnover and scored on an 11-yard completion to former Shock WR Charles Dillon four plays later. Rookie-QB Steven Sheffield came in to relieve Meyer and threw an interception on the next Spokane drive to league-leader DB Vic Hall. The Rush offense capitalized on the interception, with a six play 41-yard drive that was once again capped off by Dillon and cut the lead to ten points, 49-39.
Sheffield quickly regrouped on the next drive and connected with WR Greg Orton for a 43-yard bomb to record his first AFL touchdown pass. After Chicago scored on the next drive, Sheffield showed his arm strength with a 32-yard touchdown completion to WR Shaun Kauleinamoku to put the game out of reach for the Rush.
Spokane, who is now in a three-way tie for the fourth playoff spot, will hit the road to take on the Vodoo in New Orleans next Saturday night. The Shock’s next home game is on July 9th when the host the Utah Blaze for the Joe Albi Summer Classic.