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Sports >  Spokane Shock

Portland Thunder roll into Spokane for ‘essentially a playoff game’

Spokane took a big step toward qualifying for the Arena Football League playoffs – and showed that it has an outside chance of doing some damage – by knocking off three-time defending champion Arizona eight days ago.

But that was last week.

The Shock’s challenge is to keep those positive vibes going and that would require a victory over visiting Portland tonight at the Arena. Spokane (5-10) clinches a playoff berth with a win and an L.A. Kiss (4-11) loss to Arizona on Sunday.

“We lose this game we’re in trouble, we win this game we’re in or at least be the fourth (seed),” coach Andy Olson said. “It’s essentially a playoff game.”

Portland (4-11) has lost seven of its last eight, but the last two weeks have resulted in a 72-48 rout over Jacksonville and an overtime defeat to San Jose (15-1).

Thunder quarterback Kyle Rowley, who led Spokane to a pair of championships, has tossed 56 touchdown passes but he’s been intercepted 18 times.

The teams have split two meetings.

“The first time we were ahead and they fought back and beat us,” said Olson, whose team is 3-5 at the Arena entering the home finale.

“The second time they fought back from huge deficit and made it close. They have a veteran quarterback and a new defensive back in the middle (Varmah Sonie) playing extremely well. They’ve put up some very good numbers against very good opponents the last two weeks,” Olson said.

Spokane sacked Arizona quarterback Nick Davila four times and forced four turnovers. Portland has allowed just 16 sacks in 15 games, but its minus-14 in turnover margin.

“Same as last week,” Shock quarterback Arvell Nelson said. “It’s a team effort. We need (the defense) like they need us. If we play together, we’re going to come out victorious.”

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