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Spokane Empire

Shock hold off Barnstormers

The Spokane Shock didn’t play perfect football Friday, but they managed to keep their unblemished road record intact.

The second-ranked Shock built a big early lead, and then weathered a rough patch late in the second quarter and early in the third before subduing Iowa 48-42 at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

Spokane won its 10th straight to improve to an Arena Football League-best 12-2. The Shock are 7-0 in road games. Iowa, which handed Spokane its lone defeat in the 2009 arenafootball2 season, dropped to 6-8.

Spokane can clinch hosting rights throughout the playoffs with a home victory against Chicago next Friday.

“Iowa fought hard,” head coach Rob Keefe said in a postgame interview on the Shock radio broadcast. “My guys aren’t satisfied; we’ll be content with the victory. I honestly believe that’s the mark of a champion – the never-satisfied attitude.”

Kyle Rowley fired six touchdown passes, three to Huey Whittaker, and ran for another score. The Shock didn’t commit a turnover and their defense forced two fumbles.

Rowley completed 8 of his first 9 passes as Spokane built a 27-7 with less than a minute left in the second quarter. Spokane went for an onside kick, but Iowa’s Rodney Filer scooped up the ball and raced into the end zone, trimming the Shock’s lead to 13.

Spokane’s offense stalled and Iowa capitalized with Ryan Vena’s 13-yard touchdown pass to Jesse Schmidt on the final play of the half. Iowa surged in front, 28-27, on another Schmidt TD catch 90 seconds into the third quarter. Schmidt finished with 10 receptions for 148 yards and three touchdowns.

Spokane regained the momentum, with the help of a couple of key penalties. On fourth-and-15, Rowley threw an incomplete pass, but Iowa’s Micah King was flagged for an illegal rush. Two plays later, Rowley found Shaun Kauleinamoku for a 34-yard touchdown to give Spokane the lead for good.

Spokane made it a two-touchdown differential when Aaron Robbins forced a Vena fumble that was recovered by Antwan Marsh. Whittaker’s third TD grab put Spokane on top 41-28.

It was 48-35 after Markee White, playing for the first time since suffering a shoulder injury two months ago, caught a 6-yard touchdown pass. An Iowa penalty erased Larry Kendrick’s touchdown return on the ensuing kickoff and the Barnstormers burned up a lot of time before scoring with just under 1 minute remaining.

Iowa decided against an onside kick. White’s 36-yard reception moved the ball to Iowa’s 1 and Spokane ran out the remaining seconds.

“We’re learning how to fight through tough situations,” said Robbins, who forced one fumble and recovered another. “We made plays when it was our time to make them.”

Rowley has 89 touchdown passes this season, breaking Nick Davila’s franchise-record 86 set in 2009. Whittaker had 11 receptions for 104 yards. Greg Orton had six catches for 59 yards and White had five for 68 and Kauleinamoku four for 68.

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