LIVE ON SWX: Shock Can Clinch Playoff Spot With Portland Win - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

LIVE ON SWX: Shock Can Clinch Playoff Spot With Portland Win

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The Spokane Shock will have a chance to clinch a playoff spot with a win over Portland in their final home game of 2015. The Spokane Shock will have a chance to clinch a playoff spot with a win over Portland in their final home game of 2015.

SPOKANE, Wash. – The Shock (5-10, 1-4) return to Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena in Week 18 of the 2015 AFL regular season to host the Portland Thunder (4-11, 1-4) on Saturday aT 7:00 p.m. PT. Game coverage will live on SWX-TV and the WatchSWX app, online via WatchESPN.com and the WatchESPN app. Radio coverage will begin at 6:30 p.m. PT on the Shock-VPI Radio Network on AM 700 ESPN Spokane.

GAME NIGHT INFORMATION

This Saturday’s home game is “Fan Appreciation Night” brought to you by KZZU 92.9 FM radio Spokane. The “Tailgate Zone” will open at 5:00 p.m. in the north arena parking lot, featuring a Coors Light Beer Garden and free YMCA Kid’s Zone. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. as the first 5,000 fans receive Shock team. Kickoff is at 7:00 pm. and for “Fan Appreciation Night” will feature exclusive merchandise sales, additional promotional giveaways, and more. Tickets are on sale via all TicketsWest Box Office locations, online at www.TicketsWest.com, or by phone at 1-800-325-SEAT.

MATCH-UP HISTORY

The Shock lead the all-time series 4-1 after splitting the first two games of the 2015 season with Portland. During the Thunder’s inaugural season in 2014, Spokane won all three regular season match-ups.

In Week 3 of the 2015 regular season, Portland was able to capitalize off of back-to-back defensive scores by Jack linebacker Bryce Peila (46-yard interception, 3-yard fumble return) early in the third quarter. Trading scores the remainder of the game, Spokane would have a final opportunity for a go ahead score in the final minute of play but the Thunder defense would intercept Shock quarterback Danny Southwick for the third time on the night to seal the 47-43 win at the Moda Center.

The two teams then faced off for a nationally broadcast game in Portland on June 21 (Week 13) as Spokane posted three unanswered scores to open the first quarter of play. By the mid-way point of the second quarter, the Shock had a 35-7 lead. Spokane quarterback Carson Coffman threw for nine touchdown passes on the night, five of those to receiver Nick Truesdell. The Shock defensive unit intercepted the Thunder quarterbacks three times on the night and recovered a bar-ball to set up a score early in the game. The early lead and defensive play allowed the Shock to go on to a 69-54 victory.

GAME PREVIEW

The Shock and Thunder will each enter Week 18 coming off Week 17 games against the top two teams in the National Conference (San Jose, Arizona).

Spokane was able to pull an upset over Arizona thanks to a 31-point second quarter and 17 unanswered points before the half. Led by quarterback Arvell Nelson and a Shock defense that posted two interceptions, four sacks, a fumble recovery, and a bar-ball recovery; Spokane was able to hold off the defending ArenaBowl Champions and record a 52-45 victory.

Portland took on the overall number one ranked Sabercats last Saturday in San Jose, taking the game into overtime after posting 20 unanswered points in the first quarter and a 34-21 lead going into the half. The experienced Sabercats fought back in the second half, as they recorded an interception and held the Thunder to a turnover on downs late in the game. With time winding down and the game tied, San Jose had an opportunity for a final field goal as time expired but the kick would be blocked by the Thunder to send the game into overtime. The Sabercats would make quick work of their opening series and post a touchdown, but a missed point after attempt would leave the door open for Portland. The Thunder had an opportunity to answer, but would be stopped on fourth-and-two on the San Jose five-yard line, giving the Sabercats the 55-49 win.

This weekend’s match-up between Spokane and Portland has significant playoff implications. The Shock currently hold the third seed in the National Conference. While they are tied with Las Vegas with an overall record of 5-10. The Outlaws Week 18 game against New Orleans was canceled due to the two franchises recently being taken over by the league, which will leave the game at a tie and automatically improve the Outlaw’s overall record to 5.5-10. Spokane will visit Las Vegas once more in regular season play during the final week (Week 20) on Saturday, August 8.

Spokane is currently one game ahead of Portland. With a win this weekend against the Thunder, Spokane would go into their final two regular season games at Cleveland and at Las Vegas with the playoffs in their sights. Portland could still make a run for the fourth seed, but would have to secure a win against Las Vegas in Week 19 and remain hopeful that the Outlaws and Kiss do not post another win in the remainder of the regular season.

The Shock will look to Arvell Nelson at quarterback in Week 18 to create a spark similar to last Friday’s upset win over Arizona. Nelson completed 22-of-34 pass attempts for 259 yards, four passing touchdowns, and two rushing scores. Anthony Amos led Spokane’s receiving effort with 13 receptions for 144 yards and three touchdowns (career-highs). Defensively, Spokane rookie defensive back Mike McMillan recorded his second multi-interception game. The Shock defensive front also recorded four sacks on the night.

The Thunder will likely give the starting nod to veteran quarterback Kyle Rowley again this Saturday. Just two weeks ago, Portland defeated the Jacksonville Sharks 72-48 as Rowley posted seven total touchdowns and helped the Thunder to a 26-point fourth quarter.

The return of Portland defensive back Varmah Sonie over the past two weeks has paid dividends for the Thunder defense. Sonie started the season on the “Other League Exempt” list while he was under contract with the NFL’s Cleveland Browns. After being released, Sonie did not report to Portland immediately. Over his past two games back with the team, Sonie has recorded 13.5 total tackles, one interception, and four pass break-ups.

Spokane saw the return of receiver Rashaad Carter last week. Carter missed the previous six weeks after undergoing thumb surgery. Now in his second straight week, Arvell Nelson will look to Carter and a talented receiver core in Truesdell, Amos, Sambrano, and Bell to bear the load as the Shock will aim to hold on to their third seed spot in the National Conference playoff hunt.

Through Week 17 of the 2015 season, Portland has averaged 47.7 points per game against their opponents (ranked eighth), while giving up 55.5 points per game to opposing offense (ranked eleventh). Spokane has posted 47.5 points per game (ranked ninth) and has allowed a league-high 55.9 points per game to their opponents.

The two teams are evenly matched in terms of quarterback pressures this season as Spokane leads Portland by one sack (23-22). While the Thunder have only given up 16 sacks in fifteen games (ranked fifth), the Shock have allowed 30 this season (tied ninth, second highest in AFL).

Spokane will need to capitalize off turnovers this Saturday and will have a great opportunity against the Thunder who have recorded the worst turnover margin in the AFL (-14). Spokane (-4), will look to continue improving offensively this week in hopes of continuing their stride toward playoffs. 

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