BOISE – Patrick Bugg caught the break, er, bounce the Spokane Shock were looking for Saturday night.
And the Spokane Shock used the momentum from Bugg’s heads-up touchdown catch late in the first half en route to a 63-45 victory over the Boise Burn as 4,640 fans watched at Qwest Arena.
With the win, the Shock improved to 3-0 on the season and 6-0 all-time against the National Conference West Division rival Burn.
Boise fell to 2-1, its first loss in a home opener in its three years in arenafootball2.
“It’s our biggest win by far,” said Shock receiver Charles Dillon, who had three first-half touchdowns before sitting out the second half with sore ribs. “To us this was going to prove if we are good or not, to prove if we are the team we believe we are. We wanted it real bad. It’s a seven-hour drive. You don’t want to drive back with a loss.”
Spokane left with another victory against the Burn, but this one was a little more difficult. The Burn, under first-year coach Brent Winter, traded score for score and stop for stop throughout most of the first half.
Boise closed within four points, 28-24, with 28 seconds remaining in the first half on the second and final touchdown from quarterback Taylor Tharp to receiver Nichiren Flowers.
On the ensuing drive, Spokane marched down to the Burn’s 8-yard line, where quarterback Nick Davila lobbed a pass in the left corner of the end zone for Bugg. The ball was out of reach of Bugg and Boise’s defenders. But the ball caromed off the top of the back wall, over the outstretched hands of Burn defensive back Tremaine Tyler and into Bugg’s grasp for the score.
“That’s just the kind of luck that they always get,” said Tyler, a former Shock player after his first game with the Burn. “That’s the game, though.”
The final score may not indicate how the Shock’s final offensive play of the first 30 minutes changed momentum, but it truly did, according to the Burn coach.
“To a degree, it was deflating,” Winter said. “That’s the difference (in the game). Bugg catches the ball and Tyler doesn’t grab it. That’s the difference.”
Spokane outscored the Burn 27-21 in the second half to earn the victory.
Bugg finished with seven catches for 113 yards and four touchdowns.
Dillon had the three touchdowns catches, including the 26-yard scoring reception to put Spokane on the scoreboard in the first quarter. Dillon hit the wall hard while making the catch, injuring his ribs. He did not know how badly his ribs were hurt or if he will miss any more time.
Defensive back Sergio Gilliam replaced Dillon in the second half – his first offensive time with the team – and made five catches for 49 yards, including a 29-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. Davila completed 27 of 38 passes for 269 yards and eight touchdowns with no interceptions.
Tharp, Boise’s quarterback, finished with 202 yards, four touchdown passes and two interceptions. He completed 15 of 24 passes.
Shock defensive lineman Ben McCombs teamed up with Jeff Van Orsow to sack Tharp late in the fourth quarter. McCombs now has 44 career sacks. He entered the game needing one more sack to tie C.J. McLain’s all-time af2 record.
McCombs thought he had the record-tying sack.
“I didn’t even know that somebody else was around me until (Tharp) was on the ground,” he said.
“That’s fine. If it’s a half (of a sack), it’s a half. And if not, great. This is the third game of the season and that record’s mine regardless.”
Shock 63, Burn 45
BB-Flowers 14 pass from Tharp (Scott kick)
SS-Dillon 26 pass Davila (Jackson kick)
SS-Dillon 8 pass from Davila (Jackson kick)
BB-FG Scott 18
SS-Bugg 45 pass from Davila (Jackson kick)
SS-Dillon 45 pass from Davila (Jackson kick)
BB-Tharp 2 run (Scott kick)
BB-Flowers 9 pass from Tharp (Scott kick)
SS-Bugg 8 pass from Davila (Nikolao run)
SS-FG Jackson 24
BB-Allen 6 pass from Tharp (Scott kick)
SS-Bugg 8 pass from Davila (Jackson kick)
BB-Walker 1 run (Scott kick)
SS-Gilliam 29 pass from Davila (Jackson kick)
BB-Rabb 5 pass from Tharp (Scott kick)
SS-Bugg 40 pass from Davila (Jackson kick)
SS-FG Jackson 33
Rushing–Spokane, Player Unavailable 2-17, Nikolao 4-14, Davila 3-10, Bugg 1-3, McCullough 1-minus 1. Boise, Walker 4-10, Tharp 5-3, Allen 2-1.
Passing–Spokane. Davila 27-38-0-269. Boise, Tharp 15-24-2-202.
Receiving–Spokane, Vijil 8-76, Bugg 7-113, Gilliam 5-49, Dillon 4-67, Player Unavailable 3-minus 36. Boise, Allen 6-80, Flowers 4-36, Wilson 3-48, Rabb 2-38.
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