By Josh Ouellette
SPOKANE, Wash. – The nets were kind to the Spokane Shock in their 68-46 win over the visiting LA KISS at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena on Friday night.
With former Shock (2-4, 0-1) quarterback Matt Bassuener under center for the KISS (0-7, 0-3), LA moved downfield and put a quick touchdown on the board with a 31-yard pass to Donovan Morgan.
Spokane responded right away with a 49-yard kickoff return TD by Sergio Gilliam after he grabbed the ball from the high bounce off the netting.
After both teams traded touchdowns the nets helped the Shock out again, this time on a kickoff, as the ball bounced high and out of reach of the KISS return man and into the hands of Nick Truesdell around the 10 yard line and he took it the rest of the way for the quick six to give Spokane a 20-14 lead with 2:24 left in the first quarter.
Truesdell scored again early in the second quarter to give the Shock a two-score lead on a 44-yard TD pass from Warren Smith in the former Maine QB’s debut for Andy Olson’s offense. A James Ruffin fumble recovery set up the score.
“Warren Smith played an outstanding football game, I don’t know what the numbers are but I don’t care,” Shock head coach Andy Olson said. “He got us out of third and long and fourth and long multiple times and just had very good leadership from a rookie quarterback.”
Bassuener and the KISS kept things close with a 33-yard TD pass over the middle to Morgan on fourth and one to cut the Spokane lead to 27-20.
Smith placed a perfect ball on Mike Washington for a 19-yard TD pass on the Shock’s ensuing drive to extend the lead back to two scores.
A few snaps later Ruffin and the Spokane defensive line forced its second Bassuener fumble, this one in the endzone, and Micah King fell on the ball for another quick touchdown to give the Shock a 41-20 lead.
Bassuener and the KISS scored one more time before the half to send the teams into the locker rooms with a 41-27 Spokane lead.
After the break both teams scored on their opening drives of the second half to make the score 48-33 in favor of the Shock.
Smith and Washington connected for 25-yard touchdown pass on fourth and 12 to give Spokane a 55-33 lead and the fans a free Jumbo Jack from Jack in the Box. Smith stood firm in the pocket and took a vicious hit from KISS linebacker Antron Dillon as he delivered the touch pass to Washington in the back of the endzone.
Baussener led LA to another score by creating space in the pocket before nailing Tom Gilson against the back padding for the six to make it a two-score game again.
It was short-lived when Rashaad Carter caught Smith’s eye on the deep drag and followed Anthony Amos’ block into paydirt.
During a KISS timeout Bassuener fell to the ground clutching his hand. He had to come out of the game and was replaced by Joe Clancy.
The Shock crowd was thirsty for a win late in the game and it helped keep the KISS off the scoreboard by forcing a turnover on downs in Spokane territory.
Smith found Washington one final time for their fourth TD connection to give the Shock a 68-40 lead.
“Mike [Washington] has stepped up his game this year more then he has ever,” Olson said. “I think this is his best year so far in his career, not only playing wise, but leadership wise.”
Smith finished 23-of-29 passing for 313 yards and a game-high 7 touchdowns, with one coming on the ground. Most impressive for the Shock was Smith didn’t turn the ball over in the game.
“I felt good out there,” Smith said after the game. “A couple of throws I missed and my footwork was a little sloppy, but I was just glad to come out here and start competing again. It’s been a whole year since I’ve played and I’m finally back and healthy and I’m just excited to start playing with these guys.”
Clancy found Lewis for a 14-yard TD at the buzzer to give the game it’s final score.
Spokane will get into the hard part of its schedule in the coming weeks with three games against rival San Jose and one against perennial AFL front-runner Arizona in the Shock’s next six games.
“We know how difficult this schedule is going to get and we’re not scared of anybody,” Olson said. “We’re not scared of San Jose, we’re not scared of Arizona, we’re looking forward to an opportunity to play those guys.”
Shock vs. KISS Scoring Summary
LA – Morgan 31-yard Pass from Bassuener (PAT Good) – 12:26
SPO – Gilliam 49-yard Kickoff Return (PAT Good) – 11:26
LA – Bassuener 2-yard Run (PAT Good) – 8:14
SPO – Washington 5-yard Pass from Smith (PAT Blocked) – 3:41
SPO – Truesdell 12-yard Return Off The Net (PAT Good) – 2:24
SPO – Truesdell 44-yard Pass from Smith (PAT Good) – 12:26
LA – Morgan 33-yard Pass from Bassuener (PAT Missed) – 8:30
SPO – Washington 19-yard Pass from Smith (PAT Good) – 6:55
SPO – King Fumble Recovery in Endzone (PAT Good) – 5:25
LA – Lewis 8-yard Pass from Bassuener (PAT Good) – 0:35
SPO – Smith 1-yard Run (PAT Good) – 11:00
LA – Morgan 13-yard Pass from Bassuener (PAT Missed) – 6:05
SPO – Washington 25-yard Pass from Smith (PAT Good) – 1:39
LA – Gilson 15-yard Pass from Bassuener (PAT Good) – 13:33
SPO – Carter 45-yard Pass from Smith (PAT Good) – 10:49
SPO – Washington 12-yard Pass from Smith (PAT Missed) – 2:42
LA – Lewis 14-yard Pass from Clancy (Conversion Failed – 0:00
SWX Content Coordinator
By Tim Peterson
(Spokane) – The losses continue to mount for the LA KISS. In fact one could say they were in a state of shock after a 68-46 defeat at Spokane Friday night that left them at 0-7 to start the 2015 campaign.
Donovan Morgan was again one of the few bright spots for the KISS as he hauled in three touchdown passes from Matt Bassuener and also became just the 14th player in Arena Football League history to reach 10,000 yards. But it wasn’t nearly enough as the KISS trailed 41-27 at the half and found themselves down by four touchdowns late in the game before scoring as time expired. The Kiss has now lost 13 straight games dating back to last year.
Things continued to deteriorate on the injury front as Bassuener, who is a former Shock quarterback, hurt his hand in the fourth quarter and was replaced by Joe Clancy who threw the last TD pass.
For the Shock, rookie quarterback Warren Smith fired six touchdown passes and also ran one in for a score. He threw for 313 yards overall. Mike Washington was Smith’s favorite target as he was on the end of four of those TD strikes.
LA led early in the game when Bassuener scored on a two-yard run for a 14-7 advantage in the first quarter, but the Shock reeled off the next three scores to go up 27-14 and never relinquished the lead.
While the KISS is still seeking its first victory, the Shock improved to 2-4.