Spokane had a better day off the field than on it.
The Shock’s playoff hopes were dealt a major setback when they blew an 11-point lead in the final 40 seconds and lost to Utah 58-55 in front of 8,852 Saturday at the Arena. The loss dropped the Shock to 7-6 while Utah, one of the teams Spokane is chasing for an at-large playoff berth, improved to 9-5.
On the labor front, Shock majority owner Brady Nelson said the AFL and AFL players union have tentatively agreed on a new five-year collective bargaining agreement. Nelson, in Chicago as part of the AFL’s negotiating team, said a few items still need to be worked out, but they “won’t stand in our way.”
The lead traded hands five times in the second half before Spokane defensive end Mike Alston stripped the ball from quarterback Tommy Grady and linebacker Terence Moore scooped the ball up at the Blaze 2-yard line and plunged into the end zone.
Moore’s TD gave Spokane a 48-38 lead with 3:33 left. Utah countered with Grady’s seventh touchdown pass, but former Boise State kicker Kyle Brotzman missed his third PAT and Spokane led 48-44.
The Shock recovered Utah’s onside kick and Moore scored on a 4-yard run to hike Spokane’s lead to 55-44 with 40.1 second left.
Spokane appeared to be in control, but arena football can turn around in hurry. Grady fired another touchdown pass to trim Spokane’s lead to 55-50. Brotzman’s onside kick took a couple of bounces and was recovered by 265-pound Ben Stallings, who was tackled at Spokane’s 18-yard line.
Two penalties on Spokane helped Utah move to Spokane’s 2. The Shock appeared to have Grady sacked, but he flung the ball out of bounds to avoid a penalty for intentional grounding. Spokane challenged the ruling, but lost.
Tysson Poots pulled in his fifth touchdown reception to give Utah the lead with 3.2 seconds left. Spokane’s Kenny Spencer came up short and off line on a 63-yard field-goal attempt on the final play.
Spokane visits San Jose (9-4) on Saturday.