SPOKANE, Wash. – The Empire (9-2, 7-1) completed the season sweep against their in-state rival during the 2016 Indoor Football League regular season with a Week 14 45-23 win over the Tri-Cities Fever (3-9, 3-6) at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena.
In a must win situation for Tri-Cities, the Empire proved to be too much to handle on both sides of the ball for the Fever. Spokane jumped out to a 13-0 lead thanks to two J.J. Hayes touchdown scores while the Empire defense held the Fever to a turnover on downs and a missed field goal on their first two possessions of the game.
The Fever were able to scratch together only nine points in the first half while Spokane continued to roll offensively. Quarterback Charles Dowdell tossed three touchdowns in the second quarter (Sims-2, Kennedy) to extend the Spokane lead. The Empire defense got involved before the end of the quarter as defensive lineman D.J. Yendrey blocked a Tri-Cities field goal attempt that resulted in a scoop and score touchdown by defensive back Lorenzo White Jr. to give Spokane a 39-9 lead.
The tables would turn from the first half offensive onslaught by the Empire to a second half defensive battle between the teams.
Tri-Cities posted two touchdown scores in the second half before the two teams would go on to trade possessions four times without producing points in the fourth quarter. The Empire found the end zone for their only second-half score via an 8-yard rush by Kennedy with just over two minutes remaining in the game before going on to close out the 45-23 win.
The Fever outgained the Empire in offensive yards by a total of 223-203 on the night, but lost the turnover battle with one fumble, one interception, two missed field goals, and failed to convert on fourth down twice.
Empire quarterback Charles Dowdell completed 13-of-22 pass attempts for 123 yards and three touchdowns while adding eight rush attempts for 32 yards. Trevor Kennedy rushed nine times for 44 yards and one touchdown. He also added three receptions for 19 yards and one score. Carl Sims led Spokane receivers with six receptions for 57 yards and one score. J.J. Hayes also added two scores on the night (one rushing, one receiving).
Defensively, Tyree Robinson led the Empire with 11 tackles (7 solo) and two tackles for loss. Josh Ferguson recorded the only interception of the night and added four total tackles and a fumble recovery.
Tri-Cities quarterback Hunter Wanket completed 20-of-34 pass attempts for 191 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. He added six rush attempts for nine yards and one touchdown, but also lost one fumble. Offensive specialist Rob Brown had eight carries for 16 yards and added eight receptions for 83 yards.
Next week the Empire will go on the road to take for their second matchup against the Colorado Crush during the 2016 regular season. Kickoff is set for Friday, May 27 at 6:00 p.m. PT and will be available live on AM 700 ESPN radio and online via IFLLive.TV.