The Spokane Shock rallied past the Massachusetts Pirates 34-26 on Saturday night at the DCU Center in Worcester, Massachusetts, after cashing in on all three of their fourth-quarter turnovers, boosting a struggling Indoor Football League offense that has had trouble finding the end zone .
Davonte Sapp-Lynch’s 8-yard touchdown with 26 seconds left helped seal the reborn franchise’s first win since 2015, but a key Walter Thomas fumble recovery set up the short, clock-eating drive.
“Defense was getting stops and made the right adjustments as the game went on,” said Shock coach Billy Back, whose team trailed 20-7 at halftime. “We have to do better on offense.
“It was ugly, but I’ll take an ugly win over a loss any day.”
The Shock (1-1), who trailed 26-13 early in the fourth quarter, couldn’t establish an offensive rhythm against one of the IFL’s top defenses, but backup Pirates quarterback Sean Brackett’s late turnover spree was a coup for Spokane.
Brackett, filling in for starter Alejandro Bennifield, who went down with an injury in the second half, threw an interception to Shock defensive back Cedric Poole earlier in the fourth quarter, setting up Shock quarterback Charles McCullum’s touchdown run to make it a 26-19 game at the 6:31 mark.
Brackett started the next drive by throwing an interception to Shock safety Dominick Sanders, who reached the end zone on the return to tie the game at 26.
The Massachusetts meltdown wasn’t over.
Pirates kick returner Aarion Maxey-Penton bobbled the ensuing kickoff and was tackled in his end zone by Micah Robinson, scoring the Shock one point for a rogue – similar to outdoor football’s safety – to give Spokane a 27-26 lead.
But the Pirates still had ample time to regain a lead they had most of the evening.
When it appeared Brackett threw an incomplete pass while getting wrapped up in the backfield on the Pirates’ potential winning drive, Back used his challenge flag.
Back said he believed the Pirates’ quarterback fumbled when he didn’t finish a forward throwing motion.
Thomas jumped on the football with 1:56 left .
Referees reviewed the play and ultimately agreed with Back on the game-changing call.
“I am batting 1.000 on challenges,” Back joked. “That was a good team we played tonight, probably the most talented roster in the IFL.
“Our defense showed resilience.”
The Shock have a bye next week before hitting the road again on June 5 to face the Northern Arizona Wranglers in Prescott, Arizona.
Note: Game stats from Massachusetts were not available by press time.
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