Sanders’ interceptions highlight Shock’s win
If you bump into Terrance Sanders on the street, you might consider letting him pick your Powerball numbers.
The man is that hot.
The Spokane Shock’s defensive playmaker made a bunch more Friday night, intercepting three passes – running one back for a touchdown – in a 65-47 blowout of the Philadelphia Soul at the Spokane Arena.
Adron Tennell – back off a league suspension – caught five touchdown passes from Kyle Rowley as the Shock shook off some issues handling onside kicks to finish the first half of the Arena Football League season with a flourish in front of an announced crowd of 9,236.
Down went the AFL’s second-ranked – and highest-scoring – team. Up went the Shock over the .500 mark for the first time this season, to 5-4.
“We always knew we were good,” Tennell said, “even when we were struggling. Now we’re just trying to show the AFL we’re here to stay and we aren’t playing around.”
Sanders certainly isn’t.
After running back two kicks for touchdowns and picking off a pair of passes in a dramatic overtime victory over New Orleans last week, he made just as big of an impact this time. Besides the three interceptions, he recovered an onside kick late in the first half that helped pad Spokane’s lead.
“I been eating my Wheaties, man,” he laughed.
Might he try his hot hand in some other venue?
“I’m not usually a gambling man,” he said. “Only on the field. But right now, I might by a lotto ticket on the way home.”
It was Sanders’ 43-yard runback of his third interception 3 minutes into the second half that broke the game open. The Shock were rolling 44-14 and the Soul (7-3) looked lifeless.
That changed later in the quarter, when the Soul recovered back-to-back onside kicks. Quarterback Dan Raudabaugh had them in the end zone almost immediately, with a pair of medium-range strikes to Tiger Jones – trimming the lead to 51-41 at the start of the fourth period.
But receiver Joe Hills corralled Philadelphia’s third onside try – and after a Shock touchdown, Spokane came up with another turnover. Jones was unable to corral a pitchout from Raudabaugh near the right wall and Spokane’s Paul Stephens scooped up the ball and dashed 29 yards to set up the issue-settling touchdown.
The Shock’s half was merely flawless – beginning with Sanders intercepting two of Raudabaugh’s first four passes to help stake Spokane to a 21-0 head start.
“We ran a lot of the same coverages, but disguised them a little bit,” he said. “We knew they liked to throw deep, so if we stayed high, we might have a chance at a couple. Any time you can get him to hesitate and pat the ball back there, it’s to our advantage.”
Those first three touchdown passes all went to Tennell, but the second-year receiver saved his highlight-reel play for late in the first half.
With the Shock facing third-and-goal from the 14-yard line, Tennell and the Soul’s Rayshaun Kiser converged on a Rowley pass at the goal line. Both got a piece of it, but Tennell was able to pivot toward the back wall and make a juggling catch for a 34-14 lead 47.7 seconds before intermission.
“I had to come back and make up for what I missed,” Tennell said. “It was great to put the pressure on them early – make them throw it deep and continue to turn the ball over.”
Then it was Sanders’ turn again – recovering an onside kick after it dribbled off no fewer than four Soul players. Brandon Thompkins got a must-have first down, reversing his field after being hemmed in on a fourth-and-1 run, and Kenny Spencer banged through a 32-yard field goal as time ran out for a 37-14 lead.
Philadelphia came into the game averaging more than 70 points a game and often flashed that explosiveness. But Raudabaugh’s 360 yards and six TDs were offset by the three picks and the loose pitch.
Rowley and Tennell hooked up 11 times – half of the quarterback’s completions.
“Terrrance is playing amazing right now, but he didn’t win the game by himself tonight,” Shock coach Andy Olson said. “That was a true team victory.”