CLEVELAND – Just in time for the bright lights.
The Spokane Shock will make their national television debut adorned with the trappings of the AFL’s Western Division crown after defeating the Cleveland Gladiators 62-56 before 8,237 fans on Saturday night at Quicken Loans Arena.
The victory came in overtime on Travis Williams’ interception return for a touchdown and, along with Arizona’s loss to Chicago, secured the division title for Spokane.
Friday, the Shock will make their national television debut on the NFL Network’s “Arena Game of the Week” as they travel to Iowa and take on the Barnstormers.
Spokane (11-2) dominated most of Saturday’s game until the Gladiators (6-8) came back late in the fourth quarter after the their defense finally stopped the Shock offense for the first time.
Two Cleveland touchdowns in the last 1 minute, 22 seconds sent the game into overtime.
Williams came up with his interception at the Spokane 7 and returned it 43 yards for the winning score.
It was was the only interception of Gladiators quarterback John Dutton but Spokane’s defense did recover two fumbles.
The first fumble was forced by linebacker Aaron Robbins annd recovered by Alex Teems at the Spokane 1 after a Cleveland reception.
The recovery allowed Spokane to take its first lead of the game, 14-7, on a 13-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Rowley to Shaun Kauleinamoku.
In the second quarter, defensive lineman Jeremy Geathers sacked Dutton who fumbled. The ball was recovered by Jerry Turner. One play later, Rowley connected with Huey Whittaker on a 14-yard touchdown pass to give the Shock a 21-7 lead.
Whittaker led the Shock’s receivers in receptions (11), yards (153) and touchdowns (five). Two of Whittaker’s five touchdown receptions were converted on fourth down.
Wide receiver Greg Orton made his first start for the Shock and collected seven receptions for 70 yards including 4-yard touchdown catch.
Rowley finished the night 25 of 38 passing for 298 yards, seven touchdowns and no interceptions.