San Jose provided another not-so-gentle reminder, for the third time in seven weeks, of the gap between Spokane and the best team in the National Conference.
It’s in the neighborhood of 39.7 points, the average margin of three SaberCats’ routs over the Shock.
No. 1-ranked San Jose blasted the Shock 62-27 in front of 7,618 Friday at the Arena, the final score making it hard to believe the contest was once tied at 20 late in the second quarter.
“That’s going to be the biggest thing for the rest of the season, we have to fight,” defensive end Micah King said. “We can’t put this out on the field anymore. We have to be the ones scoring 62 points.”
The Shock (4-9) averaged just 27 points in three games against the Arena Football League’s top defense. Spokane dug a 14-0 hole as San Jose quarterback Erik Meyer and his receivers found open space in the Shock secondary.
Spokane pulled even at 20 late in the second quarter when King knocked the ball loose from Darius Reynolds and Mike McMillan returned it 31 yards for a touchdown.
The SaberCats (13-1) went back on top, 27-20, on Ben Nelson’s touchdown catch but they left Spokane with 50 seconds after a failed onside kick. The Shock stalled inside San Jose’s 10 – for the second time in the half and fourth time in the game – with two unsuccessful attempts from the 1-yard line.
San Jose needed just two plays to score on its opening drive of the third quarter and a bar-ball kickoff led to another touchdown and a 41-20 lead.
“Getting scored on and getting a bar ball right after that didn’t help us out for sure,” Shock coach Andy Olson said. “It was a snowball effect after that.”
Spokane was on the move on its next series but quarterback Carson Coffman was sacked and left with an apparent right shoulder injury. Backup Arvell Nelson struggled and fans started heading for the exits when his long pass was intercepted by Fred Obi with no Shock receiver in the vicinity late in the third quarter.
Spokane has a bye next week. Olson wasn’t sure of the severity of Coffman’s injury but moving forward “more than likely it’ll be a competition between Nelson and (former starter Warren) Smith.”
Meyer, primarily throwing short passes to open receivers who picked up yards after the catch, finished 26 of 34 for 277 yards and seven touchdowns. The former Shock standout also had a 15-yard rushing touchdown. Reggie Gray had 14 catches for 154 yards and four scores. Nelson added 10 catches for 91 yards and one TD.
Olson had animated discussions with numerous players, including a couple with his defensive backs.
“Young players,” he said. “We’ve got a rookie middle DB, basically a rookie back side and a rookie front side, trying to teach them. I know physically they can do it, they just don’t know the game yet but I still believe those guys can get the job done.”
Coffman passed for 165 yards and two touchdowns. Nick Truesdell, who dropped a couple of balls, had a team-high 12 catches for 99 yards, including a one-handed touchdown snag early in the second quarter.
San Jose sacked Shock quarterbacks five times.
“Little things just didn’t go our way,” Shock offensive lineman Patrick Afif said. “Little mistakes, and in arena football they add up a lot, everything is just escalated by 100. In this game, it catches up to you.”
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