Spokane was breaking in a new quarterback and ran into an old nemesis directing the opposing offense.
It wasn’t a good combination as the Pittsburgh Power built a halftime lead, endured a second-half comeback and defeated the Shock 52-41 in front of 8,724 Friday night at the Arena.
Spokane, playing its first game without injured quarterback Erik Meyer, dropped to 5-3 and faces a road trip to two-time Arena Football League champion Arizona a week from Sunday. Pittsburgh improved to 5-3 as quarterback Tommy Grady improved to 5-0 against the Shock, dating back to his days with the Utah Blaze.
Quarterback Donovan Porterie, signed by Spokane earlier this week and operating with just three practices, had five touchdown passes but was intercepted three times and fumbled once.
“We put the ball in the end zone quite a few times but three times in particular we didn’t and it was turnovers by myself,” said Porterie, whose last game action was with Green Bay in 2013 in the Indoor Football League. “As a quarterback, I have to get better. This is only two or three days in with the team so the chemistry isn’t going to be there, but no excuses on my part.
“Next week I’ll definitely be 100 percent better.”
The offense had its share of ups and downs, which is just about what head coach Andy Olson expected.
“Scoring 41 points was in the realm of where I thought we’d be,” Olson said. “That gave us an opportunity to win the game. Down at the end we didn’t make the plays we needed to make.”
Porterie was 17 of 37 for 185 yards.
“It was a very frustrating game for him,” Olson said. “He’s never seen any of these defenses before. He did his best. Three days, it’s just not easy. In this league, you don’t get to punt, play that defensive role, you don’t get to play safe, so you have to score every possession. The fact that we did score that many points shows that he made some really good plays.”
Pittsburgh built a 24-14 halftime lead with the help of several former Shock players. Hank Edwards, acquired from Spokane in a trade April 30, had a 6-yard touchdown catch to put the Power on top 14-7 early in the second quarter.
Ex-Shock receiver Shaun Kauleinamoku, who finished with 13 catches for 150 yards, hauled in a 15-yard reception to help set up a 23-yard field goal by Julian Rauch on the last play of the half, giving Pittsburgh a 10-point lead.
Porterie’s 37-yard touchdown pass to Adron Tennell – who later left the game with an injury – tied it at 14. Spokane was stopped on downs and then Porterie was intercepted on a deep pass into double coverage.
Pittsburgh ran 42 first-half plays to Spokane’s 11. The Power amassed 15 first downs to the Shock’s two.
Spokane moved the ball more efficiently in the second half and kept it interesting until the final horn. Defensive lineman James Ruffin read a screen pass and snagged an interception. His 21-yard return for a touchdown pulled Spokane within 38-34 with 12:14 remaining.
“After playing this game for so long you start to recognize things,” Ruffin said. “I was fortunate enough to pay.”
Pittsburgh drove for a touchdown to extend its lead to 45-34. Porterie was intercepted for the third time – this one by ex-Spokane defensive back Virgil Gray. The Power capitalized with another touchdown to take a 52-34 lead.
“We wanted to hold them under 45 points and we didn’t do that,” Ruffin said. “As a defense, we’re going to take that loss.”