NEW ORLEANS – In the first 10 minutes, Spokane scored a touchdown on special teams, offense and defense. New Orleans, meanwhile, needed nearly 40 minutes to score three touchdowns.
Spokane built a huge lead early and cruised to a 75-54 win over the VooDoo at the New Orleans Arena on Saturday. The Shock’s third consecutive Arena Football League victory allowed them to keep pace with Utah in the race for the fourth and final National Conference playoff berth. Both teams are 7-7 and they’ll meet in the first AFL outdoor game July 9 at Albi Stadium.
Terrance Sanders returned the opening kick 57 yards for a touchdown, his fourth TD return this season.
Kyle Rowley, starting in place of Erik Meyer (concussion), tossed a 10-yard touchdown pass to Shaun Kauleinamoku to give Spokane the lead for good, 14-7.
“We were clicking on all cylinders,” Kauleinamoku said in a postgame radio interview. “The kick return really set the tone.”
Defensive end Eric Hedin, signed by the Shock earlier this week, disrupted the VooDoo’s next two possessions. Hedin stripped the football from VooDoo fullback Tommy Taggart and linebacker Antwan Marsh recovered and scored on a 12-yard return.
The 6-foot-7 Hedin then deflected two passes at the line and sacked quarterback D. Bryant on fourth down. Rowley’s 1-yard touchdown run boosted Spokane’s lead to 27-7. The Shock led 41-14 at half after receiver Chas Gessner wrestled the ball away from a defensive back near the goal line on an overthrown pass from Rowley.
“I think we scored on all our drives, so it was a good day offensively,” Rowley said.
Spokane led by 34 after Greg Orton’s 28-yard touchdown catch midway through the third quarter.
Rowley, who started the first eight games before losing the job to Bill Stull, finished 16 of 27 with four touchdowns. Stull directed Spokane to touchdowns on its last three possessions. Gessner and Kauleinamoku each had two touchdown receptions.
“I saw good things, I saw some bad things but that’s just being a head coach, but I liked the way (Rowley and Stull) handled themselves,” head coach Rob Keefe said.
The VooDoo, winless in eight home games, dropped to an AFL-worst 2-12. They managed just one offensive touchdown in the first half and finished with 15 penalties.
PJ Berry, who returned one kick for a touchdown and had another nullified by a penalty, had three TD receptions.