Shock Storm Iowa in 2014 AFL Opener - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Shock Storm Iowa in 2014 AFL Opener

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SPOKANE, Wash. -- Despite a slow start, the 2014 Arena Football League season opened up with a bang for the Spokane Shock as they defeated the Iowa Barnstormers 64-35 at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena on Saturday, Mar. 15. 

The Barnstormers got on the board first on the third play of their opening drive thanks to a Carson Coffman strike to Julian Williams for 31 yards and the touchdown. 

Things got worse for the Shock when Erik Meyer fumbled the ball as he was fighting out of a sack in the endzone, while he recovered, Iowa was still awarded a safety and Spokane trailed 9-0 early in the first quarter. 

On the ensuing drive the Shock forced a turnover on downs after forcing a fourth-and-six situation at their own 18 yardline. 

The offensive line allowed another sack on Spokane's second play from scrimmage, but then things picked up for Meyer and the Shock as they completed passes to Adron Tennell and then Mike Washington to get their first first down of 2014. A few plays later Spokane scored on a Meyer scamper into the endzone from two yards out. Shock now trailed 9-7 with 2:19 left in the first.

"It was nice once we started getting back in the rhythm of it," Meyer said. "There was just a lot of excitement. Home opener, in front of the home crowd, sellout crowd and everyone was excited. We've just got to make sure we start the games a little more focused in the beginning and we just have to calm ourselves down."

The Barnstormers stuck again at the 12:30 mark of the second quarter on a 11 yard pass from Coffman to Marco Thomas, but the Shock recovered and returned the fumble on the point after attempt to make the score 15-9. 

Spokane would strike with 8:16 left in the second quarter on a 13-yard pass from Meyer to Tennell on 4th and goal. Taylor Rowan's point-after attempt gave the Shock their first lead of the game, 16-15.

Spokane would force another turnover on downs when the Barnstormers were pushing the ball upfield, after two big plays. A sack by Derrick Summers on second down, and a crucial pass breakup in the endzone on third down by Bryant Nnabuife. 

Long time secondary man Terrance Sanders offered praise for Spokane's new defensive back, Nnabuife.

"He's a big physical guy, we love what he brought to the table in camp." Sanders said. "He had a little learning curve in the first quarter, but he got back there and made a play and then it just seemed like he was very loose from then on. I only look for him to get better, he's a smart player, a very cerebral player."

The Shock scored with 12 seconds left in the second quarter on a Meyer fade pass to the left corner of the endzone, where Tennell made the acrobatic catch right before taking out the Shock Hamster in the gap, giving Spokane a 22-15 lead after Rowan missed the PAT.

On the final play of the second quarter Sanders returned Jose Martinez Jr.'s long field-goal attempt off of the net, weaving between the Barnstormers special teams unit, for a TD to give the Shock 29-15 lead at the half.

Iowa opened up the second half with a field-long drive that ended with a Coffman to Thomas touchdown pass that was almost deflected by Spokane's Paul Stevens in the back of the endzone. After Martinez Jr. missed the point after the Shock lead was cut to eight, 29-21.

Spokane responded with a TD of their own on a six yard bullet into the back wall pads from Meyer to Brandon Thompkins. The fourth-year wide out had three catches on to help the Shock march down the field and take the 36-21 lead with 4:45 left in the third quarter. 

Iowa failed to move the ball, turning it over on downs again, this time on its own five yardline. The Shock capitalized easily on a Meyer sneak up the middle across the goal line. Spokane took a 43-21 lead with 32.1 seconds left in the third. 

The Barnstormers marched down the field in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter and scored on a 2-yard run by Darius Reynolds with 12:31 left in the final frame. Iowa keeping within striking distance, 43-28. 

The Shock were having none of it though, Spokane needed only 33 seconds to score again. On the Shock's next drive Meyer found Mike Washington for 36-yard bomb over the deep middle for the wide receiver's first TD in a Spokane uniform. The Shock's lead was now 50-28 with 11:58 left to play.

Literally a couple of plays later, Jeremy Geathers recovered Coffman's fumble in against the side padding in the Barnstormers endzone to give the Shock a 57-28 lead with 9:24 to play. 

The Barnstormers struggled against Spokane's defense for the majority of the game after the first quarter, including late in the fourth when the Shock scored off of another Iowa turnover on downs. Meyer found Tennell for the duo's third TD connection of the contest and moved Spokane's lead to 36, 64-28, with 3:29 to play in the quarter. 

The Barnstormers got on the board with 47.7 seconds left in the game on Ter'Ran Benton 50-yard fumble recovery and return for a TD off of a Deveric Gallington fumble on the goal line. 

Meyer picked up right where he left off after his 2013 AFL MVP season. The Shock quarterback finished 21-of-28 for 183 yards passing and 7 total touchdowns. Last season's Cutters Wide Receiver of the Year, Adron Tennell, finished with nine catches for 81 yards and 3 TDs. 

After the game the duo talked about their in-sync connection.

"Any time you've got a one-on-one with Tennell, that's a mismatch in my book for a lot of teams," Meyer said. "Any time you've got a one-on-one with a 6-foot-4 guy who can catch and jump that is something you've got to take advantage of."

Tennell has faith that his QB will find him when he needs him.

"Erik (Meyer) knows if I'm not open, I'm open," Tennell said. "He's going to give me a chance to make a play. We have so much trust in each other. That doesn't go just for me, it goes for all the other receivers too. He's got trust in all of us, he's going to just put it out there and let us go make a play."

The Shock will head to Arizona to face the Rattlers. 

"We've got a lot to improve on," Tennell said. "We're going to go in there and fight from the first snap in the first quarter, to the last snap in the fourth quarter. We're going to go out there and give it our all and we're going to leave it all on the field when we go (down) there. Like we do every year."

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