Judging by their records, you wouldn’t think that the Las Vegas Outlaws (3-7) and the Spokane Shock (3-7) were playing for much. But with only six weeks left in the season, both teams are in the middle of a playoff race. They, along with Portland are fighting for the final two spots.
After another horrible showing in the 3rd quarter, a late fumble, and really bad clock management, the Outlaws made just enough plays to end their five game losing streak and give themselves the inside track to the playoffs.
The Outlaws came out hot to start the game scoring on every 1st half possession. QB Sean Brackett (13-21, 208 yds, 4 TD’s, 1 rush TD) hit Jomo Wilson for an 8 yard TD to open thing up. After a Shock TD, Ladon Hudson put Vegas back in front with a 1 yard TD run.
Things didn’t slow down in the 2nd. The Outlaws forced a turnover on downs early in the quarter. Brackett then called his own number and broke the plane for his lone rushing TD of the game. Veteran DB, Eddie Moten (who would later leave with back spasms) got his first of two interceptions on the Shock’s next possession. Moten jumped a hook rout and took the ball 12 yards for the TD. Spokane found their offense in a hurry with a 1 play 25 yard TD. Both teams scored on their final 2 possessions before the half with the Outlaws holding a 41-21 lead at the break.
Once again, the 3rd quarter proved to be the Achilles heal for the Outlaws. Both teams scored on their 1st possessions of the 2nd half, but then the wheels fell off for Vegas. Following a one play 41 yard TD to Wilson (5 rec, 85 yds, 2 TD’s), Shock QB Warren Smith (25-38, 304 yds, 6 TD’s, 2 int’s) hit Anthony Amos (11 rec, 109, 2 TD’s) for a 1 play 45 yard score. Spokane came right back with a sack of Brackett in the end zone for a safety, then a TD to WR Nick Truesdell (7 rec, 99 yds, 3 TD’s) to pull within 5. Spokane was on a 23-7 run and looking for more.
It looked like Spokane had all the momentum when Gerald young let a pass bounce off his pads for the interception, but the Shock coughed up the ball on the very next play. Young took the Brackett toss into the end zone to extend the Outlaws lead. Smith answered back with a 25 yard TD run. Young, not to be outdone, took the ensuing kick 57 yards for the Vegas TD. Even after scoring the last two TD’s for the Outlaws, Young was in line to be the “goat.”
Following another Smith TD, Young got a little to fancy and fumbled the kickoff return. Spokane quickly moved down the field setting up a 1st and goal at the 1 minute warning, and trailing 62-56. With Vegas out of timeouts, Spokane decided to take a knee on 1st and 2nd down to run the clock down. A good strategy, but a very flawed one as well. While succeeding in getting the clock down to :11, they wasted 1st & 2nd down giving themselves only two chances for the win. 3rd down was an incomplete pass in the back of the end zone setting up a 4th & goal with only :7 remaining. Smith took the snap and dropped back, but immediate pressure from Outlaws DL Mike Lewis forced him to roll left. With defenders closing in Smith left his feet at the 5 yard line and took flight, but Ladon Hudson upended him in mid-air flipping Smith on to his head at the 2 yard line thus saving the TD and the game for the Outlaws.
The win puts Las Vegas at 4-7 and ends a 5 game losing streak. The loss drops Spokane into a 3-8 tie with Portland, who also lost on Friday. The Shock and the Thunder will meet in Portland next week, while the Outlaws return home to face the undefeated San Jose Sabercats.