FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Shock quarterback Andrico Hines holds the ball at the 10-yard line, down by seven points, with one second left on the clock. However, his pass sails off the goalpost netting, crashing down on the endzone floor, and the Shock lose a heartbreaker 63-56 to the Fort Wayne Fusion on Sunday.
The game featured a back and forth battle between the two teams and a final minute where a combined 28 points were scored, highlighted by a 52-yard kickoff return by Antwone Savage. However, a 40-yard touchdown pass from Fusion quarterback Cody Hodges to wide receiver Cesare Manning sealed the victory for Fort Wayne (2-1).
“We made too many mistakes throughout the game,” said head coach Adam Shackleford whose team drops to 1-2 on the young season. “We got guys in the right spot, but when they get there they are just not making plays. Our kickoff team struggled tonight and we are going to work on that.”
The Shock looked sharp in the first half as Hines orchestrated a five-minute drive that resulted in the team’s first score of the game, Ben Brown galloping from the 1-yard line. The Shock went up by 8 points, the largest lead for both teams, when Hines found Savage for the first of his five touchdown passes on the night. After that, the Fusion found ways to play havoc on the Shock defense, with Hodges just barely scoring the go-ahead touchdown for a Fort Wayne halftime lead, 28-21.
“That is why they are the defending Arena Cup champions,” added Hodges. “I know I definitely don’t want to play this team again.”
In the second half Hines repeated another long series of plays that resulted in a Brown 2-yard run and a temporary lead for the Shock. Then it was seesaw battle all the way to the final seconds of the game.
“That’s the game of Arena Football, the ball can bounce any way. It can bounce in your favor or it can bounce against you,” added Hines who completed 31 of 39 passes to go along with 321 yards and five touchdowns. “It’s a learning curve for a lot of us on the team and we just got to stay together and get better everyday.”
The Shock had a difficult time stopping Fusion quarterback Hodges as he picked up four rushing touchdowns on the day. However, the Shock were able to stop the Fusion on the one-yard line on a 4th down play. On the ensuing play Hines hit Savage up the middle, but he turned the ball over on the 18-yard line. Hodges took advantage of the opportunity and scored a few seconds later on an 11-yard scamper to put the Fusion up 35-28. This would be the turning point of the game.
“These guys played hard, it’s not an effort thing, but we’re in our third game now,” added Shackleford. “We can’t use the excuse of an experience thing, because it’s not.”
The last minute of football was quintessential arenaball with both teams trading points in a matter of seconds. Hines hit Savage, who finished with 89 yards and four touchdowns, to tie the game with 56 seconds left in the game.
On the kickoff, R.J. Harvey raced 53-yards down the field to give Fort Wayne the lead; this was then matched by a Spokane kickoff return of 52 yards from Savage with 37 seconds left in the game.
It looked like the Shock might be able to hold Fort Wayne from scoring, but instead Hodges threw for the final score of the game, a 40-yard strike to Manning with 23 seconds left.
The last series of downs featured a circus like catch by WR Andre Rector at the 5-yard line with 11 seconds left, but a 5-yard penalty, and a two incompleted pass ended a wild game of football at the War Memorial Coliseum. The last play of the game was a pass that worked for Hines and the team once before.
“It worked for us last week. We tried to get it off the net and let a couple guys battle for it. It’s arena football and a lot of us rookies got a taste of it today, but we have to keep fighting and come together as a team.”
The Shock host the Lubbock Renegades at 5 p.m. Saturday. The expansion Renegades are 0-2 this season.
Fusion 63, Shock 56
FW—Jackson 10 pass from Hodges (Hooper kick)
Spo—Brown 1 run (Koker kick)
Spo—Rector 9 pass from Hines (Koker kick)
FW—Graham 17 pass from Hodges (kick failed)
Spo—Savage 5 pass from Hines (Koker kick)
FW—Harvey 58 kickoff return (Hooper kick)
FW—Hodges 2 run (Rusununguko pass from Hodges)
Spo—Brown 2 run (Koker kick)
FW—Hodges 11 run (Hooper kick)
Spo—Savage 30 pass from Hines (Koker kick)
FW—Hodges 25 run (Hooper kick)
Spo—Savage 5 pass from Hines (Koker kick)
FW—Hodges 9 run (Hooper kick)
Spo—Savage 8 pass from Hines (Koker kick)
FW—Harvey 53 kickoff return (Hooper kick)
Spo—Savage 52 kickoff return (Koker kick)
FW—Manning 42 pass from Hodges (Hooper kick)
Rushing–Spokane, Brown 7-12, Vijil 2-3. Fort Wayne, Hodges 9-54, Rusunnguko 5-26.
Passing–Spokane, Hines 31-39-0-321. Fort Wayne, Hodges 15-28-0-181.
Receiving–Spokane, Vijil 13-130, Rector 9-91, Savage 7-89, Brown 2-11. Fort Wayne, Jackson 7-81, Harvey 4-30, Manning 3-53, Graham 1-17.