Spokane Shock Can't Rebound from Opening AFL Loss, Lose to Gladiators 61-55

Darin PikeContributor IMarch 22, 2011

Spokane's two-year run of finishing atop Arena ball could be in jeopardy.
Spokane's two-year run of finishing atop Arena ball could be in jeopardy.Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The San Jose SaberCats are putting the pressure on the defending champions of the AFL. After winning a home game vs. the Spokane Shock last week, they ran their record to 2-0 after squeaking out a win over the Kansas City Command on Friday night.

Spokane could hardly afford to let their record slip to 0-2 to start the season and be two games back in the West Division of the National Conference.  

The Cleveland Gladiators were opening their season, complete with their newly acquired WR Troy Bergeron.  He led the Gladiators with 134 yards on eight catches with four TDs on the night. QB John Dutton completed 20-30 passes for 257 yards and six TDs.

After a three INT performance in week one, Shock QB Kyle Rowley fared a little better vs. the Gladiators. He had one pick to go with seven TDs on 29-45 passing, compiling 313 yards.  

Still, the first quarter INT by Levy Brown put the Shock in a hole they just couldn't completely climb out of. Spokane did tie the game at 28 going into halftime, but Cleveland was set to receive the opening kickoff of the second half.

Cleveland opened up the third quarter with touchdown pass to WR Robert Redd. Spokane's opening drive failed, and when Bergeron scored on a 33-yard touchdown pass, Cleveland was sitting on a 41-28 lead.

There is reason for Shock fans to have hope. Despite trailing, the team continued to fight, and Spokane’s defense came up with a defensive stop late in the fourth quarter.  Rowley connected with WR Markee White for an unbelievable touchdown catch that sent him hurdling over the boards.

Trailing 54-48, Spokane attempted an onside kick. It was recovered by the Gladiators, who quickly scored and stretched their lead to 13. Spokane added another TD to close the scoring prior to one last failed onside kick attempt.

AFL Commissioner Jerry Kurz was on hand to help the Shock raise their 2010 ArenaBowl Championship banner during a pregame ceremony.  

Spokane travels to Iowa on Friday to play in a nationally televised game on the NFL Network. They will look to avoid compounding their worst start in franchise history.