The Spokane Shock on Saturday won their seventh straight Arena Football League game, the latest an impressive 62-48 victory over the Milwaukee Iron at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee.
It was virtually a complete turnaround from Milwaukee’s 74-62 win over Spokane in the season opener in April. The Shock defense, burned by Iron quarterback Chris Greisen’s nine touchdown passes in the first meeting, picked off two Greisen passes in the first half and had two more defensive stops in the fourth quarter.
Spokane’s offense nearly reached its AFL-leading 66.7 points per game average as Kyle Rowley tossed four touchdown passes, two to Huey Whittaker and two to Raul Vijil, who left the game in the fourth quarter with a knee injury and didn’t return.
Linebacker Antwan Marsh intercepted a pass for the third consecutive game, returning this one 11 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. Marsh also had two rushing touchdowns.
The top-ranked Shock (9-2) improved to 5-0 on the road. No. 6 Milwaukee (7-5) lost for the first time at home this season. Another huge test awaits Spokane when second-ranked Arizona (8-3), which won at Jacksonville, visits the Arena on Friday. Spokane leads Arizona by one game in the West Division.
“The difference is we got to see Milwaukee under conditions we like, which is studying film and allowing us to be coaches,” head coach Rob Keefe said in a postgame interview on the Shock radio broadcast. “The first time we didn’t have any film. They were, like I’ve been saying the whole time, an older team and now we’ve caught up. There are no more rookies on this team. We have a damn good team.”
Spokane dominated early, bolting in front 14-0 on Marsh’s 2-yard touchdown run, which was set up by Travis Williams’ interception.
“It was kind of a grudge match for us,” said Williams, who struggled in the opener against Milwaukee. “After that first game, I was kind of down on myself, but I knew Week 12 we’d see them again and I’d get a chance to redeem myself.”
Milwaukee closed within 31-21, but Taylor Rowan’s field goal on the last play of the half put Spokane on top 34-21.
Spokane’s lead evaporated quickly in the third quarter. Greisen fired one of his six touchdown passes and Milwaukee was back in business when Vijil fumbled on the ensuing kickoff. Greisen hit Nate Forse for a touchdown to even the score at 34.
Marsh’s second rushing touchdown put Spokane in front for good, 48-41. On Rowan’s ensuing kickoff, the ball bounded high into the air and was eventually recovered by Spokane’s Emery Sammons in the end zone for a touchdown.
The Iron pulled within 55-48, but Rowley found Whittaker over the middle and the 6-foot-5 receiver broke a tackle on a 33-yard touchdown play with 11:38 remaining in the fourth quarter.
“We’re a totally different team than Week 1,” said Whittaker, who had seven catches for 99 yards, moving him over 1,000 yards on the season. “I think they realize that now.”
Greisen misfired on a fourth-down pass to end Milwaukee’s next possession. Williams batted down a fourth-down pass with 47 seconds left to stop the Iron’s final series.