Shock stumble to third straight defeat in loss to San Jose

SATURDAY, MAY 24, 2014

Spokane’s slide continued.

And so did the Shock’s costly turnovers, ill-timed penalties, struggles on offense and knack for momentum-draining mistakes.

Spokane was thumped by Pacific Division rival San Jose 52-34 on Friday in front of an announced crowd of 8,579 at the Arena, sending the Shock to their third straight Arena Football League setback since losing quarterback Erik Meyer to injury.

All three have been by double digits. The last two have been by a combined 50 points.

Spokane, which has lost three in a row at home, slipped to 5-5, two games behind San Jose (7-3).

Quarterback Brian Zbydniewski, acquired earlier this week, produced five touchdowns but was intercepted twice – once in the end zone and the other at the goal line.

“Give credit to San Jose,” Zbydniewski said. “They mixed up coverages a little bit. … Two big red-zone picks, I shouldn’t have pulled the trigger on those but I’ll get back in the swing of things.”

Zbydniewski made his share of mistakes, but he didn’t get much help from his teammates. Brandon Thompkins dropped three passes in the first half.

The Shock trailed just 21-13 after Zbydniewski scrambled for a 4-yard touchdown run with 7 seconds remaining in the first half. San Jose took over at its 19 and quarterback Russ Michna hit Dominique Curry in the back of the end zone as time expired.

“Our DBs have got to be more physical,” Shock coach Andy Olson said. “We have to play better back there. … Giving up a Hail Mary is just embarrassing.”

The Shock struggled from the opening play, which was blown dead by a false-start penalty. After a Thompkins drop, Zbydniewski was sacked at Spokane’s 1-yard line.

“We had five dropped balls,” Olson said. “You can’t drop a ball when you’ve got a quarterback who’s only been with us for a couple of days.

“The receivers have to play better. The offensive line has to be better. ‘Zeb’ did enough. We didn’t support him. But the people who’ve been here all year, those were the ones making the mistakes to make us lose that game.”

San Jose scored on its first play from scrimmage when Michna found Jason Willis uncovered for a 32-yard touchdown. The SaberCats scored on four of their five first-half possessions.

Spokane, trailing by 22 points, had first-and-goal at San Jose’s 1 but ended up losing 5 yards and turning the ball over on downs. The defense responded with a stop and a Zbydniewski touchdown pass closed the deficit to 42-27.

Spokane missed on an opportunity to recover the ensuing on-side kick. Michna made the Shock pay with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Reggie Gray, bumping the SaberCats’ lead to 49-27 midway through the fourth quarter.

San Jose didn’t commit a turnover. Michna was efficient, completing 17 of 29 for 218 yards and four touchdowns. Curry had two touchdown catches. Gray finished with eight receptions for 83 yards.

Zbydniewski had 303 yards passing, divided almost evenly among Mike Washington (7 catches, 100 yards), Thompkins (6-98) and Rashaad Carter (9-86).

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