Still Perfect: Shock beat Fever 54-33 in Tri-Cities
KENNEWICK, Wash. - For the Spokane Shock, Saturday night's 54-33 victory over the Fever was more then just their 11th win of the season. It was the third and final regular season meeting with their divisional-rival Tri-Cities Fever and more importantly, it clinched a playoff spot for the still undefeated Shock.
"Tri-Cities talked a lot of smack this week (in the media) and our guys heard that and they were pretty fired up tonight," Head Coach Adam Shackleford said.
Saturday night's victory capped off what was an emotional week for WR Raul Vijil. Earlier in the week, Vijil lost his 10-month old niece, Francis Rose Vijil Murguria and attended the funeral Friday with the entire team at his side. At the urging of his family, the Pasco-native Vijil pushed on and played in Saturday night's game, leading the team with eight receptions for 95 yards and two touchdowns. Many of Vijil's family members were in attendance at the game.
"It was kind of a rough week this week," Vijil explained. "You have a team and you have a family - and I think we have a family on this team. And that's a tribute to our success."
Vijil's offensive production was well-complemented by WR Kelvin Dickens and Patrick Bugg who each had a touchdown. QB Nick Davila completed 14 of his 25 pass attempts for 194 yards and four touchdowns with only one interception. Davila and Bugg connected for the Shock's longest touchdown of the game on a 45-yard bomb that essentially sealed the Fever's fate early in the 4th quarter.
For Shackleford, Saturday night's victory was due in large part to the Shock's defensive efforts. Before the game, Shackleford predicted that the defense that had three stops would win it and that's exactly what his defense did. In addition to three defensive stops, the Shock's defense also created three turnovers - including a DB Nygel Rogers 27-yard touchdown off of a fumble recovery mid-way through the third quarter.
"Our defense got off to a great start, we put a lot of new stuff into the game plan this week that we have been practicing for awhile," Shackleford said. "And I decided to try it out against Tri-Cities and it worked out for us. The things that our defense did for us (in the first half), really helped springboard us into the second half."
PICK A PEPPER: DB Sergio Gilliam and Roshawn Marshall each had an interception. For Gilliam, it was his 14th of the season - only one short of the af2 record for most interceptions in a season.
GOAL RUSH: The Shock tied a season-high scoring three rushing touchdowns. LB Kevin McCullough, FB Harrison Nikolao and WR Andy Olson each scored their first rushing touchdowns of the season.
PAPER OR PLASTIC: The Shock's defense generated three sacks while the Fever had one.
IN MEMORY: All of the Shock players wore bracelets that had the initials of Vijil's niece on them. For his own tribute, Vijil wrote her name on his arm bands.