Shock rally to beat Tampa Bay
TAMPA, Fla. – Spokane dug a hole early but roared back for a 63-49 Arena Football League road win Saturday over the Tampa Bay Storm.
The Shock trailed by 14 when Erik Meyer fired a touchdown pass to Brandon Thompkins – one of their five scoring connections – on the final play of the second quarter. Spokane carried the momentum into the second half, outscoring Tampa Bay 35-14.
“We fought through adversity,” Meyer said in a postgame radio interview. “Coming off the bye (week) we had to shake off a little rust early. We found a way to win. We pretty much controlled the second half.”
The third-ranked Shock (11-4) avenged a 70-62 loss to the Storm in April, overcoming a sluggish start that looked similar to the first meeting. Meyer was intercepted on Spokane’s first series and Tampa Bay scored on its first play from scrimmage.
Quarterback Randy Hippeard, filling in for injured starter Adrian McPherson, guided Tampa Bay to five touchdowns on five first-half possessions. The eighth-ranked Storm (7-8) picked up an extra possession by recovering a bar-ball kickoff deep in Shock territory.
Spokane dialed up its pass rush in the second half and came up with two defensive stops and a fumble recovery. Thompkins’ touchdown catch tied it at 49 late in the third quarter. The Shock went ahead on the ensuing kickoff when Kamar Jorden pounced on a bar-ball in the end zone.
“I think this is the first game we’ve come back from a two-touchdown deficit this season,” coach Andy Olson said. “We played extremely sloppy football (in the first half) and still scored 63 points and came out with a win. I’m happy with the ‘W’ but we have a long way to go.”
Offensive lineman Chris Pino scored on a 19-yard screen pass to put Spokane in front 56-49 and Thompkins’ fifth touchdown grab, following another defensive stop, gave Spokane a two-touchdown cushion.
“I had a lot of family come down and I couldn’t let them down,” said Thompkins, a Palm Beach (Fla.) Lake High graduate who finished with 12 catches for 123 yards.
Meyer passed for 303 yards and seven touchdowns and added another TD rushing. Jorden and Adron Tennell combined for 16 receptions.
Former Shock receiver Joe Hills led Tampa Bay with 10 catches for 101 yards and four touchdowns.
Spokane will remain in Florida to prepare for Saturday’s game against Jacksonville.