San Jose falls to the LA Aviators 28 - 23Photos by Alex Ho
After easily handling the LA Aviators at home on May 13th, and LA coming off a heart breaking loss to the San Diego Growlers the week before, it looked like San Jose would have no trouble with 4th place LA at home. But LA's offense looked sharper than ever in this engagement and they were able to even the series with the Spiders in their second meeting. The loss is the first home loss of the season for the Spiders and snaps an incredible six game winning streak. The game also shakes up the standings significantly in the West. Before tonight it looked like a 3 way race for first between San Jose, Seattle, and San Francisco. With the win, LA will be playing San Francisco on Sunday for a chance to leap past SF into the 3rd position. Meanwhile, the former first place Spiders drop to number 2 and a tough final stretch, including a road game in LA to close out the season, means they'll have a tough road ahead to stay in playoff contention.
San Jose's offense struggled the week before in Vancouver but the offensive line played well in the first 2 quarters of the game against LA. The Spiders D-line had trouble generating turns and couldn't capitalize on their few opportunities. Each team could only get 2 breaks by the end of the first half and LA held a 1 point lead with an end of quarter buzzer beater. In the third quarter, San Jose's trusted offensive line cracked under pressure, giving up some easy turns that LA quickly capitalized. But the real turning point was the last point of the third when LA's defense was able to hold off the San Jose o-line for a minute and a half before throwing a last second huck to beat the buzzer and take a 5 point advantage into the fourth.
Both teams put on a show, with Spiders #85 Evan Brydon and LA's #3 Brent George making huge back to back layout grabs for scores. Even though the Spiders were playing at home, Brent George's shoulder high layout grab brought the entire crowd to their feet cheering. Meanwhile, Jackson Stearns and Andrew Berry came down with some towering skies for the Spiders offense. On the stat sheet, Justin Norden continued his hot streak, throwing 6 assists and claiming 2 blocks. He led the team in overall contribution at +7. Alec Surmani (2A 3G 0D) and Shane Earley (1A 5G 0D) were both second at +5 in overall contribution.
Looking ahead the Spiders are away for 2 weeks. Their first stop is in San Francisco on June 10th. If the Spiders needed a game to reverse their loss this is the one. The winner of that game should be in a good spot to make the playoffs. The loser will be in a deep hole and will have to work to dig out. The Spiders then head down to San Diego to face a Growler squad that has just started to fire on all cylinders. Whatever the case, the squad needs to lick their wounds and be ready to go all out if they want a chance at the AUDL's championship weekend. You can catch the Spiders at home on June 24th when they host the Flamethrowers in the fourth and final matchup between these two teams.