Spokane’s first series was telling: penalty, fumble, incompletion, dropped pass, 43-yard gain, penalty, penalty, penalty, 1-yard run, 1-yard touchdown run.
Nothing pretty about it – except the end result.
Spokane’s defense took over in the second half, carrying the Shock to a 55-27 Arena Football League victory over Portland in front of 8,652 Saturday at the Arena.
James Ruffin had two sacks to end Portland possessions and Terrance Sanders’ 24-yard interception return for a touchdown helped the Shock (3-1) erase a 21-20 third-quarter deficit.
Spokane scored 35 straight points before a Thunder touchdown with 37.5 seconds remaining.
The teams combined for five turnovers, four by Portland, and 33 penalties, 21 by the Thunder (0-4).
Spokane jumped in front 20-0. Erik Meyer scored on a 1-yard plunge to cap a penalty-filled first possession.
The Thunder, needing 1 yard to pick up a first down, failed on consecutive quarterback keepers by Danny Southwick. Spokane was back in the end zone three plays later on Meyer’s 8-yard touchdown pass to Rashaad Carter.
Portland gift-wrapped a touchdown when Southwick bobbled a snap, leading to Terence Moore’s 2-yard return for a touchdown.
It looked like a Shock runaway, but the Thunder scored the next 14 points. Spokane had two touchdowns erased by penalties on its last drive of the half. Spokane went from first-and-goal at the Thunder 4 to fourth-and-goal from its 11.
Portland had a chance to take the lead but couldn’t convert on fourth-and-goal at the Shock 1.
Portland moved in front early in the third quarter, but the Shock answered on Andrew Joseph’s 9-yard touchdown catch to take a 27-21 lead.