In the days leading up to Saturday, the Spokane Shock fielded questions about facing a Kansas City team with a less-than-impressive record.
Shock quarterback Kyle Rowley emphasized that Spokane wouldn’t be caught overlooking the Command, who had only two wins heading into the Arena Football League matchup with the last-place team in the National Conference.
Though Spokane may have struggled to accomplish that goal in a penalty-filled first half, it took control early in the second half and went on to defeat the Command 70-46 in front of 8,628 fans at the Arena.
“You always overlook these games when a team has a record like (KC) and I feel like we did that in the first half. We gave them hope,” Shock coach Andy Olson said. “It’s hard for me to be happy all the time even though we scored 70 points in a game. I felt like we played just an average game in all honesty.”
The Shock (7-5), who managed the ball well enough in the opening half, were marred by seven first-half penalties that spotted the Command (2-10) nearly 70 yards.
“We talked so much this week about not having penalties, and there were flags all over the place,” Olson said. “That frustrated me.”
But the real problem was the timing of the penalties, and those key mistakes allowed Kansas City and Spokane to head into the locker rooms at halftime tied at 28.
“We’d get a penalty in the first half in a bad spot, when we thought we had a stop or a conversion, so that kind of killed the momentum,” Rowley said. “In the second half we were feeding off each other a lot better. We came out and showed that we can be a second-half team.”
And they began to show that immediately, on both sides of the ball.
On the opening drive of the second half, Rowley hooked up with Rod Harper for a 6-yard touchdown pass.
On the Command’s first drive, Shock defensive lineman Chris Tucker saw an opening on the pass rush and forced Kansas City quarterback Brian Jones to fumble. Spokane’s Mike Alston recovered and carried the ball to the Command’s 1-yard line. Four plays later, Andrew Nierman crossed the goal line and Spokane led 42-28.
Alston recovered another fumble late in the third quarter, and this time carried it into the end zone himself to give Spokane a 56-34 lead.
“The defense stepped up big time,” Olson said. “The pass rush getting a fumble for a touchdown … those are huge plays. That’s all you can ask for from your defense. Offensively, we’ve still got to be better. Overall, we won, so right now that’s all that matters.”
Receivers Adron Tennell, Rod Harper and Jeffery Soloman each caught a pair of TD passes from Rowley. Steven Black and Ryan Cave each caught one TD pass.
Rowley completed 26 of 41 passes for 272 yards and eight TDs.
Spokane hosts the division-rival Utah Blaze at 7 p.m. Saturday
“We’ve got a long road ahead,” Olson said. “Every game is basically a playoff game.”