An Arena Football League game that had the look of an easy Spokane victory turned into a nightmare loss.
The Shock had possession of the ball and a 13-point lead with less than 1 minute remaining, but a turnover and the inability to recover an onside kick allowed Orlando to pull out a stunning 83-82 victory in front of 8,370 Saturday night at the Arena.
Spokane (5-3) dropped its third straight, and this one had to rank among the most disappointing in franchise history. Orlando improved to 2-5.
Spokane, leading 82-69, seemed to secure the win when it made a defensive stop with 53.5 seconds left. The Shock turned the ball over on the next play as Erik Meyer’s pass went through Jeffrey Solomon’s hands and was intercepted by Predators defensive back Travis Coleman.
Orlando quarterback Aaron Garcia found Jason Geathers for a 15-yard touchdown pass, trimming Spokane’s lead to 82-76 with 28.7 seconds left. Spokane had a couple of chances to recover the onside kick but the ball was pulled in by Coleman at Orlando’s 11-yard line.
Garcia zipped a 5-yard scoring pass to T.T. Toliver and Mark Lewis’ PAT gave Orlando its first lead of the game with 5.7 seconds left. Kenny Spencer’s 44-yard field goal sailed wide right as time expired.
Garcia, who tossed five interceptions against the Shock as a member of the San Jose SaberCats three weeks ago, passed for 442 yards and 11 touchdowns with no interceptions. Toliver had 18 catches for 251 yards and six scores.
Spokane’s offense scored on all of its seven first-half possessions. Terrance Sanders returned a kick for a touchdown and also set up another score with a return to Orlando’s 1-yard line. Defensive lineman Terrance Taylor pounced on a fumble in the end zone – one of Orlando’s two botched center-quarterback exchanges – to put Spokane up 48-27 midway through the second quarter.
The Shock drained all but seven seconds off the clock before Meyer’s 4-yard touchdown run, giving Spokane a 62-41 halftime lead. The 103 points set an AFL record for combined points in a half.
Meyer had seven touchdown passes, four to Adron Tennell.
Spokane entertains New Orleans (1-6), a 62-16 loser to Iowa, on Friday.