Playing against the quarterback that led them to the Arena Cup in 2009 during their af2 days, the Spokane Shock somehow found their old form Friday night and beat the AFL West Division champion Arizona Rattlers 52-46 before 7,938 at the Arena.
Down 20-7 in the first half, the Shock (5-10) took only one play to cough the ball up and give the Arizona Rattlers another chance to extend their lead to three scores and add another dismal night to the Shock’s disappointing year.
But defensive tackle Terrance Taylor then pummeled Davila and James Ruffin recovered the fumble, sparking the Shock to end the first half on a 24-6 run and take a 31-26 lead into halftime.
“We finally made the plays we needed make all night long,” coach Andy Olson said. “That was a team victory.”
Olson started 6-foot-5, 225-pound Arvell Nelson in place of Warren Smith at quarterback and Nelson continually found open receivers. He completed 22 of 34 passes for 259 yards and four touchdowns with one interception.
“We just believed and kept a level head,” said Nelson, who added two short touchdown runs.
All night long it seemed the defense would either force a fumble, get an interception or a key sack when Spokane needed it.
“It gives you a calming feeling knowing that the defense will put the ball back in your hands,” Nelson said.
Anthony Amos led the Shock with 13 catches for 144 yards and three touchdowns. Most of that came after Nelson hit him with a laser in the first half and Amos dropped it for what would have converted a long fourth-down play.
But in the fourth quarter, Nelson misfired on a pass to Amos, but he got one hand on the ball and brought it in for a touchdown to make it 45-32 after a successful point-after.
“I threw a bad ball, but he went and got it,” Nelson said. “I was ecstatic.”
Olson said the catch more than made up for this drop on fourth down.
“Amos, (Rashaad) Carter, (Nick) Truesdell, everyone had a big game,” Olson said. “I’m just extremely proud that the guys stuck together and got the win.”
Davila completed 34 of 48 passes for 355 yards and seven touchdowns for the Rattlers (12-3), who have already locked up the West Division title.
The key to the big win was the pressure that Ruffin, Derrick Summers and Taylor got on Davila, Olson said.
“Our pass rush got after it,” he said. “You cannot beat Nick Davila without a pass rush.”
Olson said the win is not that surprising given what the coaches believed all along.
“If we can beat Arizona, we can beat anybody,” he said. “This is one game. But this is one game versus a very, very good football team.”
The crowd roared to the end. They needed to, as Davila got the ball with one second left and completed a long pass to Rod Windsor, who was brought down well short of the end zone as time expired.
But one of the biggest plays came just a few minutes earlier when the Rattlers tried an onside kick with 2:29 to play trailing 45-32.
The ball bounced high in the air and Truesdell used every inch of his 6-7 frame to snatch the ball out of the air to give Spokane the ball at the Arizona 3. Nelson scored two plays later.
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