Sabercats lose heartbreaker to Spokane 63-61

July 17, 2011, 6:09 am
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SPOKANE, WA The SaberCats lost to the Shock on a QB Kyle Rowley 34-yard hail mary pass to WR Randy Hymes as time expired to give Spokane the victory 63-61 over San Jose in front of 9,680 fans at Spokane Arena. The loss knocked the SaberCats out of playoff contention with the Shock punching their ticket to the postseason.

Despite the loss, OwnerHead Coach Darren Arbet was proud of the resolve his team showed throughout the game, Im proud of the guys. They work hard and they never give up. Like I said, we just came up one play short.

QB Mark Grieb finished the game with 315 passing yards on 32-of-44 (72.7) passing for seven touchdowns, earning MVP honors in the process. He also passed 800 career touchdown passes, becoming only the fifth player in AFL history to reach that number. WR James Roe earned Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Game after posting his second 100-yard receiving game of the season, hauling in 11 passes for 132 yards and four touchdowns, surpassing 800 receptions for his career in the process. He becomes only the 11th player in AFL history to surpass the milestone.

The SaberCats opened the game quickly with a Juan Gamboa kick recovered by JLS Ironman of the Game WR Victor James after the ball bounced off a field goal post. San Jose would capitalize on the early turnover as QB Mark Grieb found WR James Roe for the seven-yard score. On the ensuing drive, Spokane QB Erik Meyer was knocked out of the game on a rushing attempt that also saw DB Eddie Moten ejected for a personal foul penalty after the play. The Shock would score on a QB Kyle Rowley sneak, making it 7-6 after the failed extra point attempt. San Jose answered back with back-to-back Victor James rushing touchdowns after the SaberCat defense was able to force the Shock to turn the ball over on downs.

At the start of the second quarter, QB Kyle Rowley led a six-play drive that covered 41 yards, to pull the Shock to within eight at 21-13 when he found WR Randy Hymes for the three-yard score. The SaberCats then drove to inside the Spokane five-yard line where the Shock were able to come up with a crucial goal line stand, keeping the score at 21-13. Rowley continued his solid play when he would find WR Brandon Thompkins for the 22-yard score, cutting the San Jose lead to one at 21-20. Spokane failed on an onside kick attempt and QB Mark Grieb capitalized three plays later, hitting WR Ben Nelson for the eight-yard touchdown. The Shock answered back as big WR Adron Tennell scored with 19 seconds left on the clock. With four seconds remaining in the half, Grieb threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to WR James Roe in the back of the end zone with no time left, sending San Jose into the half up 35-27.

The SaberCats opened the second half the way they started the game as the connection of Grieb to Roe proved successful once again with a 26-yard catch and run to put San Jose up two scores at 41-27. The Shock answered back with a two-yard pass to WR Adron Tennell to keep Spokane close. The SaberCats missed a field goal attempt on the ensuing drive, which Spokane capitalized on when WR Brandon Thompkins found the end zone for a 19-yard touchdown catch, cutting the San Jose lead to 41-40.

QB Mark Grieb then led a 30-yard drive that took 4:08 seconds off the clock and pushed the SaberCat advantage to 48-40 with less than 10 minutes remaining in the contest. The two teams would exchange scores on the next two drives, as WR Ben Nelson found the end zone for the second time. With 1:31 remaining, QB Kyle Rowley hit WR Randy Hymes for the short score, before tying the game with on a Brandon Thompkins end around. On the ensuing kickoff, WR Marco Thomas was tackled for a safety with under one minute left, but K Juan Gamboa recovered his third onside kick of the season on the kickoff. The SaberCats methodically ran the clock down to four seconds where WR James Roe would found the end zone for the fourth time. With one play left to run, QB Kyle Rowley hit Randy Hymes in between the uprights for the final touchdown, giving Spokane the victory, 63-61.

Roe also surpassed former Nashville WR Darryl Hammond for 10th on the all-time receptions list, now sitting at 809 for his career. QB Mark Grieb finished the game with 4,997 passing yards on the season, marking a single-season career-high. He is 149 yards shy of breaking the AFL single-season record set by former Milwaukee Iron QB Chris Greisen. SaberCats WR Ben Nelson finished the contest with eight receptions for 103 yards, pushing his receiving total to 981 for the year. With 19 more yards he will post his fifth consecutive season of at least 1,000 yards, having reached the total during every season hes played in the AFL.
Courtesy San Jose SaberCats media services

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