Thunder can't hold off Shock
The Portland Thunder were on the road to victory for three quarters against the Spokane Shock Saturday night at Moda Center.
A fourth quarter pick-6 led to a rejuvenation of the Shock offense, though, and Spokane outscored Portland 21-13 in the fourth quarter to win 45-40 before an announced team-record crowd of 12,848.
Portland, which finished the Arena Football League regular season with a 5-13 record, will play again on Aug. 3. The Thunder, the No. 4 seed in the AFC National Conference playoffs, will go on the road to face the No. 1 Arizona Rattlers (15-3) in the first round.
Spokane retook the lead 31-27 with 14:14 remaining in the fourth quarter, when Terran Sanders intercepted a pass by Portland QB Darron Thomas and went 16 yards for a touchdown.
The Shock (11-7) then built the lead to 38-27 when quarterback Brian Zbydniewski hit Tennell Adron for a 13-yard TD.
Portland cut the lead to 38-34 as former Oregon Ducks star Thomas completed a 12-yard TD screen pass to offensive lineman Stanley Daniels.
But Spokane extended the lead to 45-34, with Zbydniewski tossing a 39-yard TD pass to Mike Washington, who was wide open over the middle.
Thomas made the score respectable, completing a 12-yard TD pass to former Oregon State wideout Kevin Cummings in the final minute, but the Thunder ran out of time and didn't get the ball back.
Spokane had 263 yards of total offense.
Zbydniewski completed 22 of 37 passes for 259 yards and five touchdowns, with two interceptions.
Portland gained 203 yards.
With the playoffs coming up, Thomas got the start over regular starter Kyle Rowley. Thomas completed 19 of 41 for 200 yards and four touchdowns, with three interceptions.
Thomas also rushed six times for 11 yards and scored a pair of 1-yard TDs in the first half.
On the first play from scrimmage, Spokane fumbled the snap and Portland recovered on the Shock 1-yard line. Two plays later, Thomas carried the ball around the end for a touchdown that put the Thunder up 7-0.
Spokane then scored 17 unanswered points.
The Shock evened the score 7-7 on their next possession. Zbydniewski completed a 16-yard TD pass to Nick Truesdell.
Spokane took a 14-7 lead with 13:53 remaining in the second quarter, as Zbydniewski completed a 16-yard TD to Rashaad Carter.
The Shock went up 17-7 on a 21-yard field goal by Taylor Rowan with 2:56 left in the half.
Thomas' second scoring run came with 16 seconds remaining in the second quarter. The PAT failed, and the teams went into halftime with the Shock up 17-13.
Portland retook the lead with 10:05 to go in the third quarter, as Thomas threw a 27-yard TD pass to Doug McNeil III.
Thomas then put the Thunder up 27-17 with a seven-yard TD pass to Jamar Howard.
The Shock pulled the score to 27-24 on a 26-yard TD pass from Zbydniewski to Carter with 30.9 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
There was a very sweet moment during the break between the third and fourth quarter. Thunder linebacker Brandon Tett proposed to his girlfriend, Lindsay Johanason. Johanason was blindfolded and walked the length of the field to win a Standard TV and Appliance beverage center. After she won the prize, Johanason took off the blindfold and found Tett standing before her with eoses. Tett then got down on one knee and presented her with a ring. Jahanason accepted the ring and said, Yes.