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Shock win fifth in a row

Spokane closed the regular season with a 45-40 road win over Portland on Saturday. The Shock (11-7) won their fifth straight. They'll visit San Jose in the first round of the playoffs next Saturday at 7.

Quarterback Brian Zbydniewski tossed five touchdown passes. Both teams committed three turnovers but Spokane's Terrance Sanders scored on a 16-yard interception return.

Spokane (Erik Meyer) and Portland (Kyle Rowley) rested their starting quarterbacks with the playoffs coming up next week.

More below.

PORTLAND – Spokane will take a five-game winning streak into the Arena Football League playoffs.

Back-up quarterback Brian Zbydniewski tossed five touchdown passes and Terrance Sanders scored on an interception return to fuel Spokane’s 45-40 victory over Portland in the regular-season finale Saturday at the Moda Center.

Spokane has won its last five and moved its record to 3-0 against the Thunder. The Shock (11-7) elected to rest starting quarterback Erik Meyer and Portland (5-13) did the same with Kyle Rowley.

“That was a frustrating football game,” coach Andy Olson said in a post-game radio interview. “At the end the defense stepped up, another win, keep the train rolling.”

Zbydniewski overcame three turnovers to help the Shock rally out of a 27-17 deficit in the third quarter. He tossed a 26-yard touchdown pass to Rashaad Carter to cut Portland’s lead to 27-24.

Sanders intercepted a Darron Thomas’ pass and returned it 16 yards for a touchdown to give Spokane the lead early in the fourth quarter. Sanders has returned three of his 11 interceptions for touchdowns this season.

Zbydniewski connected with Adron Tennell for a 13-yard touchdown pass to extend Spokane’s lead to 38-27.

Portland closed within five in the final minute but Spokane’s Terence Moore recovered an on-side kick and the Shock ran out the clock.

Zbydniewski is 2-3 as a starter, both victories coming against Portland. He passed for 259 yards and was intercepted twice. Carter led the receivers with seven catches for 91 yards and two touchdowns.

“We were off in the first half,” Zbydniewski said. “The second half we kind of clicked and spread the ball around.”

Thomas struggled in the first half as the Thunder trailed 17-14. He finished 19 of 41 for 200 yards and four TDs. The former Oregon Duck ran for two touchdowns but was intercepted by Sanders, Paul Stephens and Bryant Nnabuife.

Third-seeded Spokane will open the playoffs on the road against No. 2 San Jose (13-5) next Saturday. No. 1-seeded Arizona (15-3) entertains No. 4 Portland.


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Jim Meehan
Jim Meehan joined The Spokesman-Review in 1990. Jim is currently a reporter for the Sports Desk and covers Gonzaga University basketball, Spokane Empire football, college volleyball and golf.

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