Empire drops third-straight game…
The Empire (7-5, 6-3) fell to the Colorado Crush (3-9, 2-8) in Week 14 of the 2017 IFL regular season by a final score of 45-36 at the Budweiser Events Center on Thursday night.
The beginning of the game saw two very strong defensive performances where both offenses were stalled in their opening possessions. On the second Colorado drive in the first quarter Crush quarterback Goldrich would opening the scoring by passing to new receiver Anthony Jones that appeared to be tackled at the Colorado 15-yard line but bounced back up and ran for another 42 yards. Goldrich would then their leading receiver Kyle Kaiser in the endzone from three yards deep. Spokane would answer right back with their run game where running back Trevor Kennedy would rush the ball in from seven yards to tie the game back to end the first quarter.
Colorado would take advantage of the Empire’s miscues in the start of the second quarter to take a two score lead early. The Crush would manage to set up a short field with a return from defensive back David Lindsey that eventually led to a quick score. The Empire’s following drive began at the 25 yard line, where Spokane quarterback Charles Dowdell marched the team down into the red zone where he was picked off by Lindsey to end their ensuing drive. Colorado would answer back with Goldrich third touchdown pass on the night to Jones for 25 yards.
With just under two minutes left in the half, Spokane began to get something going on the ground with Kennedy only to stall in the red zone. Spokane would settle with a field goal to cut the lead to 11 with 1:25 left in the half. After Colorado recovered the onside kick the Empire defense came up huge with a second sack by linebacker Nick Haag on third down that had Colorado settling for only a field goal. As time expired, Crush kicker Spencer Groner’s kick was blocked by Empire offensive lineman Bill Vavau to keep the Crush lead to 11.
Spokane would start with the ball in the second half where back and forth scores came throughout the quarter highlighted by a drive by Kennedy, whom returned the ball back on the return to the Spokane 22-yard line, caught a pass from QB Dowdell for 18 yards and ran the ball for nine yards in for a touchdown.
At the start of the fourth quarter, with the Empire only being down by four points, saw Goldrich find WR Kaiser wide open as the Empire coverage fell down mid field to record his second touchdown on the night. Spokane would start from their 10-yard line and take it all the way down the field before Crush defensive back Anton Marshall intercepted it for the second time in the red zone. Marshall’s return would set up a 51-yard field goal by Groner to put the crush back up by two scores with ten minutes remaining in the game.
A spark in offense for the Empire came, as backup quarterback Aaron Wilmer would throw one pass to new Empire wide receiver Orlandus Harris Sr. for a quick score. Spokane would then recover the ensuing onside kick by defensive back Antoine Tharpe in Colorado territory. Spokane would get another quick score with just two plays before recording another touchdown to put them back within two points with just under five minutes to go.
Spokane’s coverage on special teams failed to take down Lindsey who recorded a 45 yard run to the endzone to put Colorado back up by nine with time dwindling down. Spokane would have one more chance to get back with in two points; however, Kennedy fumbled the ball just inside the red zone to seal the game for Colorado.
Colorado receivers had a huge night with three receivers (Jones, Kaiser, Rose III) all recording a touchdown and combining for over 150 yards. Despite the huge receiving game, the Empire defense was able to stall their run game with only netting seven yards on the game on 16 attempts. The Empire defense had five tackles for 28 yards lost and six pass break ups, four coming from defensive back Tyree Robinson. Linebacker Nick Haag recorded 2 sacks on the night and defensive lineman JD Griggs recorded one.
The Spokane offense saw a 97-yard rushing game by Trevor Kennedy for two touchdowns and wide receiver Sam Charles recorded 71 yards on five attempts and one touchdown. The Empire offensive line also didn’t allow a sack on the night and only one tackle for loss in the game.
NEXT HOME GAME
The Empire will return home to the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena in Week 15 to take on the Colorado Crush for their final regular season matchup at the Arena on Friday, 26 at 7 p.m. PT (MVP Club doors at 5:30 p.m., general doors at 6 p.m.) for our Military Appreciation Night. Members of the military can purchase a $15 ticket at Ticketswest.com using the code “MILITARY”.
Next week’s game will be broadcast live on the IFL’s YouTube Channel and also available on 700 ESPN and 105.3 FM radio in Spokane with Larry Weir on the call. To purchase tickets go to Ticketswest.com or call 800-325-SEAT or contact the Empire ticket office at 509-242-7460.