Spokane Shock quarterback Charles McCullum already had three rushing touchdowns to his name Friday when he attempted to give his team a go-ahead score in the closing seconds of the second quarter.
But the 35-year-old veteran went down in pain after he was sacked by Arizona Rattlers defensive end Josh Gordon, forcing the Shock to settle for an ill-fated field-goal attempt.
McCullum hopped to the sideline with a sprained foot just before halftime and never returned.
The second-ranked Rattlers (5-1) took advantage of the star’s absence, shutting down the shorthanded Shock 56-35 win at Phoenix Suns Arena.
Rattlers quarterback Drew Powell paced the league’s top-ranked offense and rushing attack, eclipsing the 100-yard mark on the ground and combined for five touchdowns.
The third-ranked Shock (4-2) came into the game with the league’s No. 1 scoring defense (31 points per game), but Powell found holes, helping the Rattlers record a second high in points.
“I took what the defense was giving me,” Powell said during an in-game interview. “The offensive line is pancaking everyone, that’s why we’re making these big plays.”
Spokane Shock head coach Billy Back praised Arizona.
“They have a great offense and their defense did well. We knew it was going to be a shootout, even with (McCullum in the game),” Back said.
“We expect (McCullum) to be back by our next game.”
Spokane trailed the Rattlers 30-28 at halftime. Without the services of McCullum, who is on the cusp of breaking the IFL career passing record, the Shock were still able to regain a lead, albeit shortly.
Shock backup quarterback Blake Sims didn’t make the road trip (hamstring injury) on Friday, so Back put wide receiver Jordan Jolly behind center to orchestrate a run-heavy offense.
After the Shock forced their second turnover of the game to give their offense good field position, Jolly scored on a short touchdown run to give the Shock a 35-30 lead.
The Shock, who struggled through the air without McCullum, didn’t score again.
Jolly threw an interception on the next possession and the Rattlers proceeded to score 26 unanswered points in front of their raucous crowd.
“We got into the red zone four times in the second half and only scored once, so we have to finish those drives,” Back said. “I made some bad calls.”
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