The Spokane Shock (10-7) closed out their 2014 home schedule with a 55-52 victory over the Tampa Bay Storm (8-9) on Monday night. A national TV audience on ESPN2 and 9,479 Shock fans in Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena witnessed the fourth consecutive win for the Shock.
Erik Meyer finished the night 21-26 for 210 yards and five touchdowns while also rushing four times for 15 yards and one score. Storm quarterback Randy Hippeard completed 20 of 41 passes for 256 yards and four touchdowns, adding six rushes for 14 yards and two touchdowns.
In his return to the field, reigning Wide Receiver of the Year Adron Tennell recorded five receptions for 38 yards and one touchdown. Mike Washington led the Shock receiver corps with six receptions for 66 yards and two touchdowns while Nick Truesdell tacked on four receptions for 56 yards and two scores.
It was the shock provided by defensive back and kick returner Terrance Sanders that helped propel Spokane past Tampa Bay. His 57-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the third quarter brought the Shock within four points and his 17-yard pick-six to open the fourth quarter got the Shock the lead for the first time in the game.
Tampa Bay received the opening kickoff and drove the ball down for an opening-drive score when Hippeard punched it in from one yard out on a quarterback sneak, putting the Storm up 7-0. Spokane answered on their first drive with another touchdown when Meyer connected with Tennell for a 6-yard score, tying the game 7-7. With under a minute remaining in the opening quarter the Storm took a 14-7 lead on an 8-yard touchdown pass from Hippeard to Amarri Jackson.
Spokane tied the game early in the second quarter with a Meyer touchdown strike to Washington from 11 yards out, knotting the score up at 14-14. The Storm took the lead back on the ensuing drive when fullback Byron Isom rumbled into the end zone from three yards out, giving Tampa Bay a 21-14 advantage. The back-and-forth contest continued when Meyer found Truesdell for their first touchdown of the night, however, a Taylor Rowan missed extra point would let the Storm keep the lead at 21-20. Hippeard snuck into the end zone a second time to cap off the Storm’s next drive, giving them the 28-20 lead. Meyer would throw his only interception of the game on the Shock’s following drive, setting up Tampa Bay for a 28-yard field goal with three seconds remaining in the half. The Storm headed into the locker room leading the Shock by a score of 31-20.
The Shock took advantage of their possession to open the second half, cutting the Storm lead to 31-27 after Washington grabbed a touchdown pass from Meyer as he fell over the wall into the Tampa Bay bench. Hippeard and T.T. Toliver pushed the lead back out to 38-27 when they connected on a 16-yard touchdown pass. Sanders bought the ensuing kickoff back to the house on a 57-yard touchdown return, bringing Spokane Arena to their feet and the Shock within four points at 38-34. A touchdown a piece from the two clubs made the score 45-41 after three quarters with one more to play.
Sanders second strike came just 19 seconds into the fourth quarter when he intercepted a Hippeard pass and returned it 17 yards for a Shock touchdown, giving Spokane their first lead of the night at 48-45. Spokane’s defense stiffened up and forced a Storm turnover on downs, which allowed Meyer to extend the Shock lead on their final drive with a 7-yard touchdown scramble, putting Spokane up 55-45. In the final minute of play the Storm managed to drive the length of the field and capitalize with a 16-yard TD pass from Hippeard to Hills. The Shock would recover Tampa Bay’s onside kick following the late score to wrap up a 55-52 victory at home.
Spokane closes out their 2014 regular season schedule with a trip to face the Portland Thunder on Saturday, July 26 at 7:00 p.m. PDT.