Kansas City Command (3-13) will host the Spokane Shock (8-8) on Saturday night for the Command’s regular-season home finale at Sprint Center. KC is looking to get a better all-around performance on both sides of the ball, after putting up a season low 27 points last week against conference rival, Iowa Barnstormers.
The Command offense was largely ineffective even with the return of quarterback Matt Gutierrez, who was 11 for 30, 91 yards and three interceptions. In eight starts for the Command, Gutierrez has completed 56.3 percent of his passes for 1,879 yards and 30 touchdowns. Gutierrez will look to get back on track as he goes up against the worst ranked defense in the league.
Zack Eskridge replaced Gutierrez in the fourth quarter, throwing one touchdown and rushing for another to keep the Command from an offensive shutout in the second half. Eskridge has seven games under his belt (three starts) and has completed 57 percent of his passes for 668 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Meanwhile, former Command quarterback and current Iowa Barnstormer J.J. Raterink attacked a normally stout Kansas City secondary for 164 yards, five touchdowns and rushed for another.
A constant spark for the Command has been Jackie Chambers, who rushed for a touchdown against Iowa, caught three passes for 20 yards and further established himself as a top kick-returner with six returns for 114 yards; he has recorded at least 100 kickoff return yards in each of the last five games. Chambers had 45 kickoff returns for 903 yards and is just 80 yards shy of Jerel Myers’ single-season franchise record, set in 2008.
Against the Barnstormers, defensive back Sergio Gilliam returned two blocked extra points for two points each for the first time in Command history.
Command wide receiver Bret Smith leads the team in receptions (75 catches for 939 yards) and scoring with 126 points despite playing in just 11 games this season. He has caught a touchdown pass in eight straight games played, and is four receiving touchdowns shy of his own single-season franchise record of 25, set in 2011. The last time the Command played the Shock, Smith recorded nine receptions for 109 yards and five touchdowns.
Kansas City’s defense ranks third in the AFL in total defense, allowing 272.9 yards per game and looks to contain Shock QB Rowley, who is coming off a seven TD performance with four interceptions in a 62-48 loss to the Philadelphia Soul last week. Rowley will look primarily to Adron Tennell who ranks in the top 10 in receptions and receiving yards per game.
Command defensive back J.C. Neal is only eight tackles shy of eclipsing the single-season team record for tackles of 110, set by Ken Fontenette in 2011. Neal ranks third in the league with 103 total tackles. Defensive back Rashad Barksdale ranks fourth with 94 total tackles.
This will be the second meeting between the Shock and Command this season. In Week 14, the Shock won 70-46 after outscoring the Command 42-18 in the second half.
Kickoff is at 7pm (CT) on Saturday featuring Fan Appreciation Night at Sprint Center. Watch the game live on https://www.ustream.tv/kansascitycommand, listen to SportsRadio810 WHB, or follow play-by-play action on Twitter @CommandGameday.