SAN JOSE -– The San Jose SaberCats (9-4) took down the Spokane Shock (6-7), 47-37, Saturday night at the SAP Center in front of 7,870 fans. With the win the SaberCats clinch a playoff spot. In his second consecutive start in place of the injured Russ Michna, rookie quarterback Nathan Stanley completed 18-of-31 passes for 240 yards, with four touchdowns, and one interception. Offensive lineman Rich Ranglin, and wide receivers Reggie Gray, Dominique Curry, and Rod Harper hauled in one score each. The defense allowed just 13 second half points, and racked up eight sacks, three-and-a-half coming from linebacker Francis Maka.
Terrance Sanders got the Shock going early as he took the opening kickoff 57-yards for a touchdown and an early 7-0 lead. Looking to answer, the SaberCats offense stalled out near midfield and turned the ball over on downs inside their own territory. The defense would not be on the field long, as Spokane starting quarterback Brian Zbydniewski fumbled on the first Shock offensive play, and Maka would be the first to pounce on it. San Jose’s offense would get on the board with their second possession, as Curry bulldozed his way into the end zone on a one-yard run to tie the game at seven. On the next Spokane drive, Maka would make his presence felt again, as he sacked Zbyniewski on fourth down to give the ball back to the offense. The SaberCats would take their first lead of the night on the next play, as Stanley connected on a screen pass to Ranglin for a 15-yard touchdown.
The Shock would tie the game at 14 early in the second quarter, as wide receiver Rashaad Carter found his way into the end zone on a two-yard run. On the ensuing possession, a Stanley pass would bounce off the referee and find it’s way into the hands of Shock defensive back Bryant Nnabuife for the interception. However, the Spokane offense would go nowhere inside the SaberCats red zone, and they would settle for a 21-yard field goal to take the lead at 17-14. San Jose would answer right back, as fullback JJ Payne found paydirt on a one-yard run to put the SaberCats up 21-17. With under a minute left in the half, Zbydniewski threw a fade to 6’7” wide receiver Nick Truesdell for six-yard touchdown and a 24-21 lead. With 21 seconds remaining, Stanley looked deep and found Gray on a 42-yard bomb to put San Jose back ahead 27-24. On the final play of the first half, defensive back Simeon Castille intercepted Zbydniewski on a deep pass off the net.
Stanley got the SaberCats started on the right foot to open the second half, as he found wide receiver Rod Harper on a 14-yard crossing route to extend the San Jose lead to ten points. Trying to answer back, the Shock drove down to the SaberCats five-yard line, but the defense turned up the pressure and came away with the turnover on downs. On the next possession, Stanley fired a bullet across the middle to Curry, where he spun out of tackles from two Shock defenders, and took it to the house for a 41-24 San Jose lead. Ending the third quarter, the SaberCats defense forced another turnover on downs, thanks to sacks from defensive linemen Jason Stewart, Terrance Carter, and Joe Sykes.
Opening up the fourth quarter, San Jose kicker Nich Pertuit knocked through a 21-yard field goal to extend the lead to 20 in favor of the home team. On the next Shock drive, reigning MVP quarterback Erik Meyer checked in, coming off a broken collarbone, and immediately led Spokane to points, finding wide receiver Nichiren Flowers on a nine-yard fade route. However, a missed extra point attempt kept the San Jose lead at 44-30. After an impressive leaping recovery of the onside kick attempt by Curry, Pertuit’s 20-yard field goal put the SaberCats back up by 17. Both defenses would force a turnover on downs over the next two possessions, before Meyer connected with Carter for a 15-yard strike to bring the Shock to within 10 points. In the waning seconds San Jose ran out the clock to seal the victory.
Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 Score
—————– — — — — —–
Spokane Shock 7 17 0 13 37
San Jose SaberCats 14 13 14 6 47
Courtesy of San Jose SaberCats media relations