Story by Donny Victory/Times Record News
Wichita Falls, TX - With two of the top teams in the IFL playing, it should have been no surprise that 60 minutes wouldn't be enough to decide the winner. In fact it took two overtime periods. But a missed two-point conversion by Spokane in the second overtime gave the Wichita Falls Nighthawks a 57-56 win Friday night in Kay Yeager Coliseum.
"That is one of the best teams if not the best team in the league," Nighthawks coach Billy Back said.
After both teams had found the end zone in both OT periods, Spokane decided to go for the two-point conversion. On the attempt, Kenny Walton came up with the play of the game for the Nighthawks. Spokane QB Charles Dowdell tried to loft a ball into the corner of the end zone. Walton broke for the ball and jumped, timing his leap perfectly, so that he was able to get a fingertip on the ball to disrupt the pass.
Walton had made his presence felt earlier in the game. After four lead changes in the third quarter, Wichita Falls grabbed an advantage in the fourth quarter when Walton came up with an interception deep in Nighthawk territory stopping the see-saw rhythm of the game.
"Walton was huge for us tonight," Back said. "He had a great game."
The Nighthawks defense looked formidable with the return of Josh Francis. Wichita Falls stopped Spokane short of the end zone six times in the game.
"It was good that our defense played great tonight," Back said. "Because their defense showed up also. But our guys did great and gave us a chance to win."
The duo of Charles McCullum to Jordan Jolly was the driving force of the Nighthawks offense. The two combined for 11 completions, 132 yards and three touchdowns. McCullum ended the game with six passing TDs and one rushing TD. For the Empire, QB Charles Dowdell threw for 254 yards and 6 TDs. They were paced defensively by defensive back Tyree Robinson with 9 tackles and 1 interception.
Next week the Nighthawks travel to play the Cedar Rapids Titans (0-2) while the Empire visit the Salt Lake Screaming Eagles (1-1).