May 2, 2014, LOS ANGELES (ISN) – The LA KISS (2-4) host the Spokane Shock (4-2) in the first-ever matchup between the two teams this Sunday, May 4, on ESPN2. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m. ET.
After beginning the season 2-1, the KISS have dropped three straight games – including a 32-48 loss to the San Jose SaberCats (4-3) last week – heading into their ESPN television debut. Spokane knocked off the Tampa Bay Storm (3-4), 53-41, in Week 7.
Points have been hard to come by so far, as LA is averaging a League-low 37.0 points per game in 2014. Spokane boasts the third-most efficient scoring attack in the League, averaging 57.3 points per contest. However, penalties may even that margin, as Spokane has struggled mightily with flags this season, costing themselves an average of 75.0 yards per game. LA is the least penalized team in the League and averaging just more than 35 yards per contest in penalties.
Donovan Morgan’s star has shined brightest for the KISS offense this season. The former Rookie of the Year has returned to All-Arena form in 2014, leading the team with 46 receptions for 594 yards and 12 touchdowns. He could eclipse the 8,000-yard mark for his career this weekend, as the sixth-year receiver is just 188 receiving yards shy of the mark. To do that, he will need quarterback J.J. Raterink to be on his game. Though Raterink set new franchise records with 30 completions on 45 attempts for 305 yards last week, consistency has been an issue for the veteran signal-caller, as he is still looking for his first triple-digit passer rating of the season.
Spokane’s success rides on the right arm of reigning AFL MVP Erik Meyer. Though Meyer has not put up eye-popping numbers this season, he continues to take care of the ball and make all the right throws. He also has the benefit of one of the League’s finest receiving corps in Mike Washington, Adron Tennell and Brandon Thompkins. Washington has caught a touchdown pass in 20 consecutive games played.
On the defensive side of the ball, both teams are paced by their pass rushes. Spokane leads the League with 19 sacks on the season, while LA sits at No. 2 with 15. Nine of those 15 sacks for the KISS have come courtesy of the AFL’s leader in the category, Mac linebacker Beau Bell. The 2007 Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Year began his AFL career with the Shock in 2011 and tallied 137.5 tackles and 17 sacks over three seasons with the team.
The Shock are led by the one-two punch of defensive end James Ruffin and Mac linebacker Derrick Summers. Ruffin leads the team with 6.5 sacks on the year, while Summers is not far behind with five of his own – three of which came last week in Tampa Bay. Defensive back Terrance Sanders is another player LA will need to keep an eye on, as the playmaking cover man also poses a threat in the return game, collecting triple-digit all-purpose yards in each of his last four contests.