PHOENIX – Defensive back William Mulder intercepted a Nick Davila pass off the net on the final play, preserving the Spokane Shock’s 63-56 Arena Football League victory over Arizona at US Airways Center on Friday.
Less than a week after losing to Cleveland in the final seconds, Mulder’s play ensured the Shock were the ones celebrating following another wild contest. Spokane (3-2) is in first place in the West Division. Arizona, which has six ex-Shock players on its roster, dropped to 2-3.
This one was tied at 7, 14, 21, 28, 35, 42, 49 and 56. Spokane took a 63-56 lead on Raul Vijil’s 23-yard touchdown catch with 1:24 remaining.
Arizona moved the ball downfield, reaching the Shock 6-yard line with 10 seconds left. After a Davila incompletion, the Rattlers faced fourth-and-goal with 3 ticks remaining. Davila’s pass was incomplete, but Shock defensive back Travis Williams was flagged for pass interference.
The penalty gave Arizona one untimed down from Spokane’s 2. Davila’s pass sailed into the net and the ball rebounded into Mulder’s arms. Davila, who was 37-3 as the Shock’s starting quarterback the last two seasons, had seven touchdown passes, but he was intercepted twice.
“It’s fun when you come out on the winning end,” Vijil said in a post-game interview on the Shock radio broadcast. “The defense stepped up. We put it on them and they made some big-time plays.”
Spokane’s offense did its part, too. Head coach Rob Keefe called the plays with offensive coordinator Matt Sauk serving a one-game suspension for violating the AFL Code of Conduct policy last week. The Shock scored on all five of their second-half possessions, three of those ending with Kyle Rowley touchdown passes to Vijil.
Rowley finished with 364 yards passing and seven TDs. Spokane was stopped just once, on downs, in the first half.
“We wanted to get back into the win column after a devastating loss last week,” said Rowley, who also ran for one touchdown. “Keefe just came through enormously. I think he memorized our entire offense in two days.”
Davila had 342 yards passing, but he was intercepted by Alex Teems in the first half and Mulder on the final play. Spokane’s defense had another stop in the third quarter when Davila was tackled on a fourth-down scramble.
Spokane capitalized on a Vijil touchdown reception to take a 49-42 lead. On the ensuing play from scrimmage, Rod Windsor hauled in a 44-yard touchdown pass to tie the score. The teams traded touchdowns before Vijil gave Spokane the lead for good with 1:24 remaining.