With 12 banners, including three for league championships, hanging on the Arena wall, the Spokane Shock have achieved numerous milestones since their inception in 2006.
On Friday, in front of a national television audience on NFL Network, the Shock reached perhaps the low point of the franchise’s seven years.
Some fans started heading for the exits as early as the third quarter as Spokane suffered its worst loss, a 69-35 blowout to Arena Football League West Division rival San Jose in front of 8,830 at the Arena. Spokane’s 76-48 loss to San Jose in last year’s season opener had been the Shock’s most lopsided defeat.
“To practice all week and come in here and put on this type of show, it’s a really bad feeling,” Shock linebacker Micah King said. “We have to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
It’s going to be an interesting week at Shock headquarters. Team and Arena Football League sources said Spokane will bring back former Shock quarterback Kyle Rowley. He was with the Pittsburgh Power when the owner fired the entire team just hours before the season opener amid labor unrest. Sources indicated Rowley will have to pass some procedural hurdles before joining the Shock, possibly as early as Monday.
Spokane (1-2) failed to score on its first three possessions, two ending with Adam Froman interceptions. The Shock finally got on the board when Terrance Sanders returned a kick 55 yards for a touchdown late in the first quarter.
Spokane stayed somewhat close as Froman ran for a couple of touchdowns and Justin Ore took a lateral 3 yards for a TD following another long kick return by Sanders. San Jose quarterback Mark Grieb fired a touchdown pass to James Roe with 10.3 seconds left to extend the SaberCats’ lead to 39-28 at the half.
San Jose poured it on in the third quarter, building a commanding 63-28 lead by scoring on its first three possessions while Spokane went 0 for 3.
Grieb passed for 315 yards and seven touchdowns, three to Ben Nelson and three to Roe. Former Shock receiver Huey Whittaker made the trip north with San Jose, but didn’t suit up.
“They did a good job of scheming us,” Sanders said. “They knew what checks we were going to be in so they did a lot of curl routes to sit in the holes.”
The Shock managed just one touchdown in the second half. Spokane’s longest pass play covered 14 yards. Froman’s 15-yard scramble for a touchdown in the second quarter was the offense’s longest gain.
Froman, in his second start replacing the injured Erik Meyer, completed 20 of 29 passes, but was intercepted twice and fumbled once while absorbing one of San Jose’s four sacks. Backup quarterback Luke Collis wasn’t suited up.
“Froman’s eyes got a little wide,” coach Andy Olson said. “He had trouble reading the defense and finding the (high) motion man. It was just a lot of rookie mistakes that you might expect and when you play a team of this caliber this is the result you get.”
On one fourth-down play in the third quarter, three SaberCats swarmed Froman and he appeared to be shaken up. He returned for the next series and finished the game.
“We wanted to put on a good show for the fans and we let them down,” offensive lineman Palauni Ma Sun said. “We’ll take the blame. A new quarterback is going to hold on to the ball and we know that. We have to block better.”
San Jose (2-1) nearly doubled Spokane in passing yardage (323-162) and first downs (28-15).
“We put the defense in horrible situations,” Olson said. “The defense made a lot of mistakes, as did the offense, but it’s tough being a defensive team when the offense can’t get anything going, can’t drive and we do things like kick the ball out of bounds.”
The Shock visit Arizona (2-1) on Friday.