Spokane's defense made Rohan Davey's Friday night miserable.
The Shock forced seven turnovers, scored on a fumble recovery, interception return and safety as Spokane hammered the Talons 77-30 at the Arena.
Davey tossed five interceptions and fumbled three times, losing two. I didn't keep an exact count, but I'd guess he was hit by a defender 20 times, maybe 25.
Spokane can clinch the third seed in the National Conference with a win next week over woeful Pittsburgh or one San Jose loss on Saturday night or next week.
My unedited game story is below.
By Jim Meehan
After yet another play ended with quarterback Rohan Davey getting crunched by a Spokane defender as he released a pass, two San Antonio offensive linemen glanced toward the video screen on the Arena scoreboard.
They watched the replay, shook their heads in disgust and began a slow walk to the Talons bench.
Spokane’s front four put relentless pressure on Davey, generating seven turnovers and nearly tossing a second-half shutout to fuel the Shock’s 77-30 win in front of 8,485 Friday.
Spokane (13-4) needs a victory over visiting Pittsburgh next week to wrap up the third seed in the National Conference playoffs. It’s possible the Shock could visit San Antonio (9-8) in the first round. The Talons are battling Chicago (9-7) for the Central Division title.
“It depends on what (San Antonio) does next week,” Shock coach Andy Olson said, “but to beat them like that hopefully they don’t have any confidence if we do end up traveling to San Antonio.”
It was a distant memory by the end, but Spokane actually trailed, 17-13, early in the second quarter. Terrance Sanders erased the deficit with a 56-yard kick return for a touchdown – his sixth of the season.
Then the defense took over. Rohan lost control of the ball as he started his throwing motion and Diyral Briggs recovered in the end zone, putting Spokane on top 26-17.
“It’s a defensive lineman’s dream to land on the football in the end zone,” Briggs said. “We won our individual battles up front and it showed. It was coming from all angles, the Mac (linebacker), the nose, the ends, and the defensive backs did a heck of job in coverage.”
Paul Stephens made the first of his three interceptions, and his 43-yard return set up Spokane at the Talons’ 2-yard line. Quarterback Erik Meyer scored on a 1-yard run on fourth down and the Shock led by 16.
Spokane outscored San Antonio 30-0 in the third quarter. Terrance Taylor forced another Davey fumble that went for a safety. Meyer tossed long touchdown passes to Adron Tennell and Kamar Jorden and Terence Moore snagged an underthrown Davey pass and returned it 15 yards for a touchdown.
Meyer took the rest of the night off and backup Arvell Nelson scored on a 3-yard run, boosting Spokane’s lead to 63-24.
It was 77-24 when the Talons scored with 11 seconds remaining – their only points in the second half.
“As soon as we step on the field as a defensive line and a (Mac) linebacker we have to get after that quarterback,” said linebacker Beau Bell, who spent most of his night in San Antonio’s backfield before exiting with an ankle injury he said wasn’t serious. “We got to the quarterback, made him uncomfortable, he made bad decisions and it led to a lot of interceptions.
“That’s what we have to do, the front and the secondary have to play together.”
Meyer had four touchdown passes, two to Tennell and two to Jorden.
Davey finished 18 of 39 for 214 yards with three touchdowns and five interceptions. He was sacked three times and faced pressure play after play.
“The line was extremely hungry. With the rotation of (ends Jeremy) Geathers, (James) Ruffin and Briggs, you can’t really beat that,” said Olson, whose team has won four straight. “And you have to credit our kick coverage for keeping them inside their 5-yard line. That put pressure (on Davey) to throw the ball quick and he wasn’t comfortable doing that.”