The win closed out the Thunder’s three game, season opening home stand, and takes the club to 2-1 for the first time in franchise history.
“That was one of my all-time favorite wins,” stated Thunder head coach Mike Hohensee. “There was never quit in anybody’s eyes. Every time I went back to the bench everybody was still in it.”
The Thunder could have easily unraveled in the second quarter. A back and forth affair through the first third of the game saw the score knotted at 13. Following a Shock lead taking touchdown, Thunder QB Kyle Rowley was intercepted by Spokane DB Sergio Gilliam. Former Thunder quarterback and recent Shock signing Danny Southwick took advantage of the possession change, hitting receiver Mike Washington for a 39 yard touchdown pass on the next play, completing a two score swing that took just under five minutes.
Hohensee did not see his players hang their heads.
“Everybody believed the defense was going to make a play, the offense was going to make a play. We’ve been going through so much adversity the last few weeks and our guys pulled together and played the way a good football team is supposed to play.”
The Thunder answered back with a two score swing of their own in the third quarter. Down nine starting the second half, and without the ball, the defense did make a play. A pair of them to be precise.
JLB Bryce Peila intercepted a downfield effort from Southwick, and returned the pass nearly the entire length of the field, scampering up the left sideline for a 46 yard touchdown. On the ensuing Spokane drive, Peila struck again, this time recovering a snap fumble at the Spokane three yard line and running it in to give the Thunder their first lead since the 10:29 mark of the first quarter.
When questioned about his good fortune, the former Western Oregon Wolf stated that he “hadn’t scored two touchdowns in the same game since high school.”
Southwick shown well for his new employers, winning offensive player of the game honors on his return to Portland. The four year veteran completed 21 of his 32 passes, for 291 yards, and six touchdowns. Three interceptions at key times doomed his homecoming party, however, with the final turnover, a pick by Thunder rookie DB Osagie Odiase, icing the game with less than a minute left.
Thunder receiver Jamar Howard continued his torrid start to 2015, tallying his third straight 100+ yard game in three tries. Howard finished his evening with 112 yards from 11 receptions and two scores. Also prevalent was Thunder wide out V’Keon Lacey, who commanded the right side flats throughout the game. Lacey ended the night with 10 catches, for 108 yards, and one touchdown.
The Portland Thunder hit the road for the first time in 2015, when they travel to Arizona to take on the three-time defending ArenaBowl Champion Rattlers next Saturday, April 18 at 6pm.
Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Game – Danny Southwick (SPO)
Riddell Defensive Player of the Game – Bryce Peila (PDX)
J. Lewis Small Playmaker of the Game – Bryce Peila (PDX)
Cutters Catch of the Game – Rashaad Carter’s One Handed TD Catch (SPO)
AFL Highlight of the Game – Bryce Peila’s 46 yard Interception Returned for a Touchdown (PDX)