SATURDAY, AUG. 1, 2009, 10:41 P.M.

Shock crush Stockton, 62-21

Spokane, after trailing 21-7 in the second quarter against eighth-seeded Stockton, rolled up eight unanswered touchdowns to post a 62-21 win Saturday at the Arena.

Next up: Spokane (16-1) meets Boise (13-4) on Saturday, the fourth clash of West Division rivals this season. Spokane is 3-0 against the Burn.

Read on for my unedited game story.


By Jim Meehan

Staff writer

The Spokane Shock defense didn’t get its first stop until late in the second quarter.

After that, it was nothing but stops.

The top-ranked Shock erased a two-touchdown deficit with 55 unanswered points and rolled to a 62-21 victory over the Stockton Lightning in the first round of the arenafootball2 playoffs in front of 7,267 Saturday at the Arena.

The eighth-seeded Lightning (6-11) surprised Spokane early, leading 21-7 after Brandon Horace’s 9-yard touchdown catch with 10:53 left in the second quarter. Those would be the Lightning’s last points as their final eight possessions came up empty.

“We came out going through the motions a little bit,” said Shock defensive end Caesar Rayford, who had one of the team’s two sacks. “Once we settled down a little and figured out their offensive line we started getting after it.”

The result was steady pressure on quarterback Chad Cavender, who tossed two touchdowns in the first quarter, but was intercepted four times in the second half and fired numerous passes into the crowd to avoid sacks.

“Once a team like that gets rolling, it’s hard to stop them,” said Cavender, who finished 24 of 49 for 318 yards. “They picked it up offensively and defensively in the second half. It was either their pressure or me trying to get rid of ball too soon. Their line is the best in the league and they showed it tonight.”

Spokane (16-1) entertains fourth-seeded Boise (13-4), a 77-36 winner over No. 5 Arkansas, on Saturday. Spokane handed the Burn three of their four losses.

Spokane beat Stockton three times in the regular season by a combined 99 points, but Saturday’s game took on a different tone early. The momentum began shifting early in the second quarter when quarterback Nick Davila hit Charles Dillon in stride for a 40-yard touchdown to narrow Stockton’s lead to 21-14.

The ensuing kickoff hit the bottom of the goal post and bounced into the waiting arms of Sergio Gilliam inside the Stockton 10-yard line. Davila scored on a keeper to tie the score at 21.

“That’s happened twice for me this year,” said Gilliam, referring to his recovery on the kickoff. “There wasn’t any frustration (when Spokane trailed 21-7). We know what we’re capable of. I feel like when we play the way we’re supposed to we can’t be beat.”

Spokane’s defense got its first stop when Lightning kicker Stephen Irvine missed a 21-yard field goal. The Shock took their first lead, 28-21, on Raul Vijil’s 1-yard run. The defense finally cranked up the pass rush, leading to another stop. Markee White hauled in a perfectly thrown 24-yard pass from Davila to give Spokane a 35-21 lead at half.

“We weren’t thrilled in the locker room. I didn’t feel like we played well in the first half,” Shock head coach Adam Shackleford said. “We talked about playing with them and I thought we could wear them down. In the third and fourth quarter we were all over the place.”

Spokane pitched a shutout in the second half. Gilliam picked off three passes, returning the last one 52 yards for the Shock’s final touchdown with 46.9 seconds remaining. Stanley Franks also had an interception.

Davila passed for 250 yards and five touchdowns. Dillon and White each had two TD catches and Andy Olson scored a 32-yard pass play to hike Spokane’s lead to 41-21 early in the third quarter.


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Jim Meehan
Jim Meehan's coverage areas include Gonzaga University men's basketball, Spokane Shock football, golf and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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