Things to watch: Shock go for season sweep of Pirates
July 30, 2021 Updated Fri., July 30, 2021 at 8:46 p.m.
A furious comeback against the Massachusetts Pirates in Week 2 gave Spokane its first win of the season on May 22 in Worcester, Mass.
The Shock (6-3) scored 27 unanswered points in the second half, topped off with a Davonte Sapp-Lynch touchdown with 26 seconds left, to beat the Pirates (7-3) 34-26 on May 22.
Saturday, the two teams meet on the dark blue turf at the Spokane Arena at 7:05 p.m.
The two teams are coming off opposite results. Last week Spokane fell 68-61 to the Duke City Gladiators and Massachusetts had a bye, but won 68-44 over the league-leading Arizona Rattlers its last time on the field.
Dangerous Pirates QB-WR
The Shock will look to respond to the defensive question marks raised after last week against Duke City Gladiators.
Unfortunately, the Shock will have no reprieve against the Pirates as quarterback Alejandro Bennifield is second in the league with 30 passing touchdowns and adds a dynamic rushing attack.
Bennifield leads the league in rushing touchdowns from the quarterback position with 13.
On the outside, Thomas Owens has the most receiving yards (710) and the second-most touchdowns (16) in the IFL.
Injuries stacking up
Charles McCullum, the starting quarterback at the beginning of the season, has not taken a snap in a game since June 25 against the Rattlers.
It was Blake Sims’ opportunity to take control of the offense, but the former Alabama star exited last week’s game after an awkward landing during a celebration.
In stepped Marcus McDade, former Spokane Empire quarterback who filled in nicely with 73 yards and two touchdowns through the air.
Sapp-Lynch, one of the league’s most dynamic ball carriers, also bowed out of the game against the Gladiators .
That left the lead halfback duties to Kamrin Solomon, former wide receiver at Florida Atlantic University who had a stint in the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
No word on if McCullum, Sims or Sapp-Lynch will return against the Pirates.
Balance is key
Spokane is one of only two teams who rank in the top 4 in total offense and total defense.
On offense, Spokane averages 45 points a game (third) while allowing 38.7 points on defense (fourth).
The Shock will need it to beat the Pirates who have gone 5-1 since Spokane beat them on May 22.
A week after the loss to Duke City, the Shock will hope their defense is able to revert back to their earlier defensive consistency.
The offense has scored above 45 points in three straight games, so the Shock will look to continue their scoring prowess.
Home field advantage
The Shock have gone 3-0 at home since fans were allowed back into the Spokane Arena.
All three wins have been by double digits.
After the first game with fans on June 19, Shock owner Sam Adams expected 5,000-8,000 fans once the restrictions were lifted. Those aspirations haven’t been reached quite yet, but the fans who have been in attendance have kept the “9th man” spirit alive.
Players postgame have pointed toward the fans as reasons for their successes at home.
Spokane finishes its schedule with two home games in its final three matchups.
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