Shock Complete Comeback, Defeat Arizona 73-66 - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Shock Complete Comeback, Defeat Arizona 73-66

Rashaad Carter's late TD was the spell the Shock needed to break the curse Arizona had over them since 2012. Rashaad Carter's late TD was the spell the Shock needed to break the curse Arizona had over them since 2012.
SPOKANE, Wash. -- The Arizona Rattlers came to the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena the leaders of the National Conference and looking to give an early punishment to one of their potential playoff suitors, the Spokane Shock. Things didn't go exactly as planned for Arizona, with the Shock earning a come-from-behind 73-66 victory on Saturday, July 12.

The Shock (9-7) fell into an early 21-0 hole with Rattlers (14-2) quarterback Nick Davila taking advantage of holes in the Spokane secondary and turnovers for quick three touchdown passes. With a 21-point lead and the first quarter in the books and the Shock offense struggling to move the ball, the game looked well in hand for the reigning AFL champions. 

Spokane was able to outscore Arizona 23-17 in the second quarter thanks to two Erik Meyer rushing touchdown's, another passing and a Taylor Rowan 24-yard field goal as time expired. But the Rattlers still seemed to be in cruise control with a 38-23 lead. 

Coming out of the gates in the third quarter Meyer and Spokane caught a break when he threw an interception but a roughing the passer penalty negated the pick and gave the Shock the ball back. A few plays later Meyer found a wide open Nicheren Flowers for a 13-yard TD pass. 

After Spokane and Arizona traded touchdowns, including the Meyer to Flowers score, the Rattlers held a 52-37 lead with under a minute remaining before the final frame. 

Then Mr. Electricity flipped the switch and ignited the Shock crowd for the remainder of the game. 

Terrance Sanders caught the ball 7 yards deep in the endzone off of the net and followed a wall of blue and orange all the way to paydirt for a 57-yard kickoff return TD, cutting Arizona's lead to 8, 52-44 as the PAT came after the third quarter buzzer rang.

"On this one we actually had a return to the right," Sanders said as he re-lived the play with the media. "So I was aiming to the right, they had about three guys just hung over and free on the left so I was like, 'well I got a shot.' So I got through there a couple of blockers were in the way but the holes were there so I stayed behind those guys and they just paved the way for me." 

After failing to get to Davila all night long thanks to a wall of Rattlers white uniforms pass blocking for days, the AFL's sack-leading defensive front broke through in the form of a James Ruffin sack and safety to bring the deficit to six points for the Shock at the 12-minute mark. 

The crowd stayed loud and the momentum kept swinging in Spokane's favor as Meyer found Mike Washington for an over-the-shoulder touchdown catch from 23 yards out to the front corner of the goal line, and on the made point-after attempt the Shock held their first lead of the game, 53-52 with 10:25 left in the game. 

Meyer and Rashaad Carter connected a couple of minutes later on a three-yard TD, but Rowan missed the PAT, to give Spokane a 60-52 lead. 

But Davila wasn't done. The former Shock signal caller from back in their af2 days hit Rod Windsor for a 28-yard score, but head coach Kevin Guy's decision to go for two backfired and lineman Joe Gibbs was stuffed at the one by a host of Spokane defenders to hold the Shock lead, 60-58. 

After failing to score again late in the fourth the Rattlers were driving and looking to take the lead in the Shock redzone, but the wheels fell off. Davila muffed the snap and Riddell Defensive Player of the Game Ruffin fell on top of the ball for his second fumble recovery of the night to give Spokane the ball back with just under a minute on the clock. "It was a big play," Ruffin said. "Nick [Davila] fumbled it and I was thinking of picking it up, but I was like 'it's too late in the game so let me just jump on it and get the ball back for our offense to waste some time.'"

Meyer and Co. would strike again in the form of a wide open pass to Washington down the sideline for a 32-yard touchdown and a 66-58 lead with 42 seconds left after another missed point after. 

Arizona got the ball back with plenty of time to score again, and it did. Davila hit Kerry Reed for a 10-yard touchdown connection, number 9 on the night for the Rattlers' QB, and after the successful 2-point conversion the game was tied, 66-66, with 29 seconds on the clock. 

Like a smooth criminal Meyer hit Washington on the sideline to stop the clock on the second play of the next drive, then found Carter at the side-endzone padding for a 27-yard game-winning score with 10.5 ticks remaining on the scoreboard. 

Davila had two final chances at the endzone, with the latter being picked off by 6-foot-7 Shock WR Nick Truesdell in to do just what he did. 

"We needed that victory," Spokane head coach Andy Olson said after the game. "The way we won it, more than the victory itself. For us to be down three possessions to the best team in the AFL at this point and to comeback the way that we did and to fight the way that we did and no one gave up and we kept fighting and we kept coming after them even as the roller coaster continued there in that fourth quarter. There was just heart everywhere. It was a great thing to witness. It was a great thing to see. We've never comeback from a deficit like that against an opponent like that." Meyer finished 25-of-38 with 292 yards passing and 6 touchdowns through the air, adding 2 more on the ground, despite a shaky first half performance.

But it was the defense making big plays in big moments that helped the Shock earn the tone-setting win heading into the playoffs. 

"The defense just never gives up," Olson said. "It definitely wasn't the best game they've played, without a doubt. We could have got much more pressure [on Davila] then we did. We gave up some pretty easy deep balls. But in the end, they made the plays that matter and that's really all that matters." 

The Shock will next face Tampa Bay on Monday, July 21, at 5:30 p.m. PDT at the Spokane Arena.

Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Game: QB Nick Davila (Arizona)

Riddell Defensive Player of the Game: DE James Ruffin (Spokane)

J Lewis Small Playmaker of the Game: LB Terence Moore (Spokane)

Cutters Catch of the Game: WR Mike Washington (Spokane)

AFL Highlight of the Game: WR Rashaad Carter’s touchdown to put the Shock up 73-66 with 10 seconds remaining (Spokane)

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