This was the offense Billy Back envisioned when he was handed the keys to Spokane’s reborn Indoor Football League franchise.
Back, who left the National Arena League power Carolina Cobras to coach the Spokane Shock, brought two-time IFL MVP quarterback Charles McCullum with him, hoping to duplicate their high-powered offense in the Inland Northwest.
It wasn’t a swift transition, but it began to take shape in the Shock’s 50-32 road win over the defending IFL champion Sioux Falls Storm on Saturday.
McCullum’s 2020 season was canceled, the 2021 season was delayed and his offense’s first three games were rife with miscommunication, drops, drive-stalling penalties and other maladies. He lived up to his preseason billing against Sioux Falls.
McCullum was efficient with his arm and legs against the Storm, an organization with 11 titles. McCullum connected on 19 of his 24 attempts for 206 yards and three touchdowns. He also had four carries for 33 yards and a touchdown.
He earned IFL Offensive Player of the Week for his effort, which helped the Shock (3-1) win their third straight against a Storm (3-2) team ranked No. 2 in the IFL last week.
“We had a game plan and stuck with it, and our offensive line played great,” Back said. “(McCullum) opened things with his running ability, kept the defense honest.”
McCullum was in a giving mood, too, as he handed the ball to a fan in the stands during a drive, evoking an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
The 6-foot-4 Atlanta native has completed 55 of 96 passes for 565 yards, seven touchdowns and four interceptions this season.
Shock running back Davonte Sapp-Lynch had his third multitouchdown game in three tries, recording a receiving and rushing touchdown after missing last week’s win at Northern Arizona to attend a relative’s wedding.
Kamrin Solomon has also scored at least one touchdown in all three of his games after missing Week 2 last month. The former Florida Atlantic University receiver caught two touchdowns on Saturday, including an over-the-wall scoring catch that gave the Shock a 24-16 halftime lead.
Solomon’s 19-yard touchdown grab late in the fourth quarter put the game away.
The Shock averaged just 36 points before Saturday’s statement win in South Dakota.
“We know we have a good roster,” Back said. “We just have to keep getting better, keep finding our rhythm.”
Shock safety Mike Green, the team’s leading tackler, was a key cog on defense, totaling 12 tackles and a fumble recovery.
Spokane’s defense is surrendering just 29 points a game, the top mark in the league.
Special teams play was also crucial on Saturday. The Shock forced two turnovers on kickoff coverage and kick returner Lamar Jordan had a 50-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter that gave Spokane a 37-29 lead.
The Shock return home Saturday to face the Northern Arizona Wranglers (0-4) for the second time in three weeks. Fans can attend but in a limited capacity.
Shock near the top: The Shock checked in at No. 2 in the 12-team IFL coaches poll.
The Frisco Fighters (4-0) hold the top spot. Frisco edged the Shock 36-33 in the final seconds last month at the Spokane Arena. They meet again Aug. 7 in Frisco, Texas.
IFL expels Louisville: An IFL team lost its membership after a “failure to meet and maintain league obligations,” the league announced Monday.
The Louisville Extreme (0-4) were scheduled to face the Shock on July 3 in Louisville, Kentucky, and on Aug. 21 in Spokane.
Those games are listed as canceled on the IFL website.
Tough luck for ex-Cougs: The Shock recently cut former Washington State receiver Tavares Martin Jr. and have placed another former WSU receiver, Kyrin Priester, on injured reserve.
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