The Spokane Shock (11-4, 4-2) went on the road in Week 16 to visit Tampa, Fla. for the first time in franchise history and take on the Tampa Bay Storm (7-8, 2-3) at Tampa Bay Times Forum.
After beginning the second half down by two scores, the Shock would go on to create a 28 point swing thanks to stout defensive play late and go on to win by a final score of 63-49 in front of a crowd 9,934.
Spokane’s opening possession of the first quarter showed similar results of the two team’s first meeting in Week 6 of the regular season. After a two short throws to create a Shock first down Spokane suffered back-to-back penalties, pushing the offense into a 2nd and 22 which resulted in a diving interception by Storm defensive back Vance Cuff and then a 5-yard touchdown pass from Hippeard to Lindsey giving the Storm the early 7-0 lead.
On Spokane’s ensuing possession, Erik Meyer would lead a nine play drive to be capped off by a 1-yard quarterback sneak to tie that game at 7-7 to end the first quarter of play.
Continuing their possession from the first quarter, Storm quarterback Randy Hippeared would find Joe Hills in the corner of the end zone for the Cutters Catch of the Game with a leaping touchdown reception going over the boards to put the Tampa Bay back on top at 14-7.
Shock receiver Brandon Thompkins and Storm receiver Joe Hills would then go on to trade back-to-back highlight touchdowns, breaking tackles and weaving their way through the opponents’ secondary on short catches to create extra yardage ending in scores.
With the Shock trailing, Erik Meyer would receive great pass protection up front and find Thompkins for his second score of the night to tie the game at 21. A failed onside kick attempt by Spokane would set up a short field for the Storm as Hipppeard would connect with Davis for a 15-yard touchdown with 45 seconds remaining.
On the Storms ensuing kickoff, a bar ball would allow Tampa Bay to recover possession of the ball on the Shock 2-yard line to set up a quarterback sneak and push the lead to 35-21. With time remaining, Erik Meyer would lead a clutch drive down field and find Kamar Jorden for three straight receptions before connecting with Brandon Thompkins as time expired for the final score of the half and to bring the Shock within one touchdown at 28-35.
As second half action opened, each team’s star receivers in the Shock’s Adron Tennell and the Storm’s Joe Hills recorded only three receptions in the first half. Hearing the call, Hippeard would find Hills three times before scoring on the fourth connection to give Tampa Bay the two-score lead at 42-28.
Spokane receiver Adron Tennell would answer by taking a dump pass down the right sideline, cutting back across the field to pick up a block by Brandon Thompkins before taking it in for the 39-yard score.
Needing a stop, the Shock defense comes up big by putting pressure on Storm quarterback Randy Hippeard three straight plays while recording a sack by Beau Bell to set up the four-and-out situation to give the offense possession of the ball on the Storm 21-yard line.
Shock quarterback Erik Meyer would find Brandon Thompkins for his fourth touchdown of the game on a 14-yard corner route to tie it up at 42-42. On Spokane’s ensuing kickoff, a bar ball by Taylor Rowan would bounce free in Tampa Bay’s end zone and recovered by Shock receiver Kamar Jorden to give the Shock their first lead of the game at 49-42 to end the 3rd quarter.
The Storm would open the fourth quarter receiving after the Shock score and make quick work as quarterback Randy Hippeard would find Joe Hills on a 30-yard corner route, tying the game at 49-49 with 12:46 remaining.
For the first time this season a Shock offensive lineman would score a touchdown reception, coming on a 19-yard tight end screen from Meyer to Chris Pino to put the Shock back on top by one score. Following the big man score and for the second time in the game, the Shock defense would dig in and force a four-and-out against the Storm offense to take over possession on the Tampa Bay 20-yard line.
Shock quarterback Erik Meyer would connect with Brandon Thompkins for the fifth time on the night to extend the Shock lead by two scores at 63-49 with just over two minutes remaining.
Attempting to close the gap, Storm quarterback Randy Hippeard would lose the snap and allow Shock linebacker Beau Bell to recover and retake possession of the ball for Spokane as they would go on to run out the clock and win by a final of 63-49.
Shock quarterback Erik Meyer completed 30 of 42 passes for 303 yards and 7 touchdowns with one interception. Brandon Thompkins would receive Offensive Player of the Game honors as he would lead the Shock receiving effort with 12 receptions for 123 yards and 5 touchdowns. Chris Pino would record the first touchdown reception for an offensive lineman this season, hauling in a short screen and taking it 19-yards for the score.
Storm quarterback Randy Hippeard would complete 23 of 37 pass attempts for 249 yards and 6 touchdowns on the night. Joe Hills would lead the Storm receivers with 10 receptions for 101 yards and 4 touchdowns while receiving Cutters Catch of the Game and AFL Highlight of the Game Honors for his second quarter touchdown reception, going over the wall in the end zone to complete the catch. Chris Davis would receive the J. Lewis Small Playmaker of the Game honor as he would post 8 receptions for 110 yards and 1 score.