By Kahlil Najar
SAN JOSE – The San Jose SaberCats (9-4) unplugged the Shock (6-7), 47-37 and clinched a playoff birth tonight. San Jose quarterback Nathan Stanley completed 18-of-31 passes for 240 yards and four touchdowns. Jason Willis lead the San Jose receiving core with 77 yards receiving however Reggie Gray, Rod Harper, Dominique Curry and Rich Ranglin had a touchdown each tonight. Defensively, Francis Maka lead the cats with three-and-a-half sacks.
“They (the defense) played great. They’ve been the backbone of the team. They’ve been very consistent week in and week out. Getting pressure on the quarterback and covering teams,” said Head Coach Darren Arbet. “It’s a really close group and they challenge each other.”
The SaberCats were in control of the game and one of the standout plays of the first half was a deep pass from Stanley to offensive weapon Reggie Gray down field who dove to grab the ball.
“Tonight was a big game for my receivers. They played extremely well,” said Stanley. “Reggie had the deep route but we double counted them and got them on the jump. I took a shot and Reggie went up there and got it.”
The Shock got on the board first when Terrance Sanders took the opening kickoff 57-yards and made it a 7-0 lead. Dominique Curry answered for the Cats when he rumbled into the end zone from one yard out and tied the game at 7. Stanley found Ranglin open for a 15-yard screen pass before the end of the first and put the Cats up 14-7.
Spokane outscored San Jose in the second quarter 17-13 on the strength of two touchdowns – a two yard run from Rashaad Carter and a six yard touchdown to Nick Truesdell and a field goal. Stanley was able to get a pair of touchdowns for the Cats including a one-yard run from JJ Payne and the 42-yard bomb to Reggie Gray. At the half, the Cats were up 27-24.
Stanley found wide receiver Rod Harper for a 14-yard touchdown to start the second half and increased the San Jose lead to 10.After a turnover on downs by the Shock, Stanley fired a bullet to Curry who was able to break a few tackles and tan the ball into the end zone to make it 41-24.
In the fourth, the Cats were able to put up a pair of field goals and the Shock were only able to put up a pair of touchdowns and finished the game with a 47-37 victory for San Jose.
With the win, the Cats have made the playoffs in back-to-back-back years.
On clinching the playoff spot Arbet said, “You always have those three goals – clinch a playoff spot, win your division then win the championship. One down, two to go.”
The Cats next face Arizona on June 27th at home at 7:30pm.