The Spokane Shock (6-5, 3-1) entertained a crowd of 8,535 with a 58-48 victory over the Portland Thunder (3-8, 0-5) on Friday night in Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena.
Shock quarterback Brian Zbydniewski completed 23 of 36 passes for 273 yards and five touchdowns while receiver Mike Washington finished the night with 11 receptions for 134 yards and two touchdowns.
Spokane rookie wide receiver Nick Truesdell, playing in his first AFL game, recorded four receptions for 51 yards and two touchdowns in the contest.
A stout Spokane defense came away with four turnovers in the game, with defensive back Terrance Sanders recording two interceptions. They added one forced turnover on downs and a touchdown to their performance as well.
The Shock received the ball to open the game and after a time-consuming first drive laden with Thunder penalties the Shock got into the end zone; a Patrick Afif fumble recovery on a quarterback sneak by Zbydniewski put Spokane on the board with a 7-0 lead. Portland would answer quickly on their first drive with a series of completions from Southwick to Eric Rogers, who eventually connected for a 4-yard touchdown strike tying the game at 7-7.
A bit of bad luck would give the ball back to the Thunder when the ensuing kickoff would go off the bar, giving the Thunder offense the short field. Southwick would find Rogers again, this time from eight yard out, for touchdown to take the lead 14-7.
An electric second quarter opened with a touchdown catch for the ages when Shock newcomer wide receiver Nick Truesdell went over the boards for an acrobatic 4-yard touchdown catch, tying the game at 14-14. Almost exactly three minutes later the Thunder struck again with a Southwick to Jamar Howard for a 16-yard touchdown to take the lead back 21-14. But the Shock would strike again with the big Truesdell, getting in for a 27-yard touchdown to even the score at 21-21.
The Shock defense would come up big on the next drive, forcing a Thunder turnover on downs from just outside the red zone to give the ball back to Zbydniewski and the Shock offense. Spokane would take advantage of the extra chance, Zbydniewski would punch it in from two yards out on a quarterback sneak to give Spokane a 27-21 lead. The Shock defense would follow with its second straight turnover, this time on a Terrance Sanders interception.
Again Spokane would capitalize on the added opportunity, scoring on an impressive 22-yard catch and run by Washington. The Thunder would close out the first half with rushing score from backup quarterback Darron Thomas, who ran in from two yards out on a quarterback sweep. Spokane held a 34-27 lead heading into halftime.
The Thunder got the ball to open the second half of play, immediately taking advantage of the possession and scoring on a Southwick to Alvance Robinson touchdown pass, tying the game at 34-34. A Shock turnover on downs on the following drive was erased by a Bryant Nnabuife interception immediately afterwards, Spokane’s strong defense showing. Zbydniewski would follow with a strong drive capped by another touchdown pass to Washington, putting Spokane up 41-34 heading into the final quarter.
Portland struck first in the fourth quarter on a Southwick to Rogers touchdown, their third scoring connection of the night, to tie the game up for the fifth time. Spokane responded with another score to gain the lead, a lead they would not again surrender; Rashaad Carter’s 26-yard, one-handed touchdown snag put Spokane up 48-41.
The following drive was highlighted by two consecutive sacks by Shock defensive lineman James Ruffin, giving him 9.5 sacks on the year and the Shock single-season sacks record. His second sack was also a forced fumble, recovered by Spokane linebacker Terence Moore for a touchdown, putting the Shock up 55-41. After a Portland touchdown and an exchange of interceptions, a Taylor Rowan 46-yard field goal with seven seconds remaining in the game sealed the victory for Spokane 58-48.