An article on the Spokane Shock posted earlier today on the AFL website had the following headline: 'Are the defending champs back?' Later Saturday, the Shock took a big step backward, falling to Pittsburgh 51-41 to drop to 3-5.
You can read the S-R game recap below.
Spokane failed to build on the momentum of back-to-back wins over the Arena Football League’s top two ranked teams.
The visiting Shock blew a 13-point halftime lead, falling to Pittsburgh 51-41 in front of an announced crowd of 6,756 Saturday at ConsolEnergyCenter. Spokane’s offense sputtered most of the game and the defense didn’t register a stop in the second half.
Pittsburgh (4-4) outscored Spokane 37-14 in the second half. Spokane (3-5), which defeated No. 2 Orlando and No. 1 Arizona the last two weeks, dropped 1.5 games behind third-place Utah (4-3) in the West Division.
“Really, really poor execution,” Shock head coach Rob Keefe said in a postgame radio interview. “I thought the defense did a heck of a job. I think offensively it comes down to simple execution, making sure you’re making the right reads and checks and people just didn’t step up when called upon.”
Spokane scored on just three of five first-half possessions, but, combined with Terrance Sanders’ kick return for a touchdown and a stingy defense, the Shock led 27-14 lead.
The teams traded touchdowns to open the third quarter. Pittsburgh closed within 34-27 on Mike Washington’s one-handed 31-yard touchdown catch midway through the third quarter. Spokane drove to Pittsburgh’s 3-yard line, but quarterback Kyle Rowley tossed incomplete passes on third and fourth down.
Pittsburgh needed just three plays to even the score at 34 on another Washington touchdown reception.
Spokane again drove to Pittsburgh’s 3, but couldn’t punch it in. The Power scored to take a 41-34 lead before Spokane answered on Clay Harrell’s 1-yard run.
Jason Willis hauled in a high throw from Bernard Morris and tumbled into the end zone, giving Pittsburgh a 48-41 lead with 50 seconds remaining. Three plays later, Rowley was intercepted for the second time in the game.
As Pittsburgh lined up, facing fourth-and-9 at its 21 with 19 seconds left, head coach Chris Siegfried called timeout. Siegfried, the former Shock head coach, opted for a field goal and Paul Edinger split the uprights on a 45-yarder to clinch the win.
“They showed up in the second half and we didn’t, simple as that,” defensive back Alex Teems said.
Rowley finished 19 of 44 for 244 yards. After Sanders’ kick return, Spokane scored on just 5 of 12 possessions, though it only had time for two plays on its last series. Pittsburgh was 6 of 6 (five TDs and one field goal) in the second half.
“We pretty much stunk it up,” receiver Greg Orton said. “We have to keep working to get better.”