The first rule of sportswriting clichés states that if your team’s name can be used as a verb, you must do so at least once per article during the playoffs. In this case, however, no one came away particularly shocked after Spokane’s 57-49 victory over the Arizona Rattlers in the first round of the Arena Football League playoffs.
The teams faced each other twice during the season, and the Shock (14-3) barely escaped both times, winning by a combined eight points. The score this time probably shouldn’t have been as close, but a few unforced errors made the game more interesting.
“I thought we had some mental lapses on defense and some poor execution on offense, “ Shock Coach Rob Keefe told the Spokesman-Review.
“With that said, I really am proud we won. This is a very good team, Arizona, but let’s finish, let’s execute. I’m going to push these guys.”
Spokane’s offense lived up to its highscoring reputation, as quarterback Kyle Rowley went 25-for-37 with seven touchdowns, including two apiece to wide receivers Greg Orton, Markee White and Huey Whitaker.
Inlander fave Ed Ta’amu, an offensive lineman, even got in on the action during the second quarter. Rowley faked left before catching Ta’amu rolling out to his right with a screen pass, and Ta’amu scampered (as much as a 6-foot-2, 335pound man can scamper) six yards for the TD — which included a leap over Antonio Narcisse, who was blocking on the play, to get into the end zone.
The defense wasn’t too shabby, either, and came up with a huge stop in the closing minutes. Midway through the fourth quarter, the Shock had the ball at the Rattlers’ six-yard line after a failed onside kick. They tried a tricky double-pass play, but had the ball stripped away, which the Rattlers picked up and returned to Spokane’s 21-yard line.
Arizona made it all the way to the eight-yard line, but Arizona QB Nick Davila threw away three passes. (Davila, you’ll remember, was the Shock’s QB last season.) The Rattlers went for it on fourth down, but defensive back William Mulder was there to break up the play.
The Shock will face the Milwaukee Iron (12-5) on Thursday at 5 pm at the Spokane Arena for the American Conference Championship. The Shock split the regular season series against the Iron, losing 74-62 in the first game of the season but winning the rematch 62-48 on June 26.
Spokane Shock vs. Milwaukee Iron on Thursday, Aug. 12 at 5 pm at the Spokane Arena, Boone Ave. and Howard St. Tickets: $14-$46. Watch: NFL Network. Visit spokaneshock.com