Defenses aren’t supposed to dominate indoor football. The field is only 50 yards and the rules are tailored to wear out scoreboards.
Spokane’s defensive unit had a night to remember Saturday, shutting down Milwaukee 57-26 in front of 9,876 fans at the Arena. It was fewest points allowed by the Shock since joining the Arena Football League in 2010. The previous record was limiting Utah to 28 points in 2010.
“We put a game together, four quarters,” head coach Andy Olson said. “We only had one turnover, and that’s one too many, but our defense was so spectacular they gave us the ball back in every situation. Our defense is getting better every single week.”
Spokane (2-3) snapped a two-game losing skid and received help elsewhere when San Jose lost to Philadelphia and Arizona lost to Iowa. San Jose, Arizona and Utah are tied for first in the West Division at 3-2.
Jeremy Geathers, likely playing in his last game before heading to the Canadian Football League, had two sacks, one resulting in a safety in the first half and the other contributing to a defensive stop on downs in the second half. Micah King forced and recovered a fumble while sacking Mustangs quarterback Gino Guidugli.
Terence Moore, who left in the fourth quarter with a knee injury, had an interception return for a touchdown for the second straight week. He picked off a Guidugli pass and took it back 10 yards early in the second quarter.
The Shock, who led 29-16 at half, held the Mustangs to one second-half field goal before Justin Lawrence’s 5-yard touchdown run with just 55.4 seconds remaining. Milwaukee (2-2) had two turnovers and committed 18 penalties for 115 yards.
“It’s hard to hold somebody (to 26 points), especially when their quarterback is taking three-step drops,” Geathers said. “You have to hand it to our defensive backs and linebackers. We didn’t make many mistakes.”
Same goes for the Shock offense. Spokane, which committed 16 turnovers in its first four games, had just one against the Mustangs. Quarterback Kyle Rowley was intercepted on a deflected pass in the end zone early in the second quarter. Three plays later, Moore returned the favor with his interception return for a touchdown and Spokane led 13-7.
“Hopefully, we can get Terence back soon and get him healthy, because he’s the quarterback of that unit right now,” Olson said. “Losing Jeremy will be a blow, but someone else has to come in. Our defensive backs were so patient out there, making their reads and they didn’t rush anything. They just got better as the game went along.”
Rowley was 20 of 26 for 214 yards. He had five touchdown passes as the Shock scored on all but one of their possessions. Adron Tennell finished with three touchdown catches and Brandon Thompkins scored four TDs (two rushing, two receiving). Terrance Sanders had three kick returns for 85 yards, including a 46-yarder.
Spokane was comfortably in front when Rowley, flushed out of the pocket for one of the rare times, found a sprawling Thompkins in the end zone to boost the Shock’s lead to 50-19 early in the fourth quarter. On Spokane’s next series, Rowley fired a pass to Tennell, who bounced untouched off the dasherboards near the 15-yard line and raced into the end zone to complete a 30-yard scoring play.
“All week coach Olson has been talking about making big plays,” Thompkins said. “He wants us to catch the ball and get vertical, get up field.”
Spokane has a bye next week before visiting Jacksonville and Utah.