SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Empire (2-1) went on the road in Week 4 of the 2017 IFL regular season and defeated the Salt Lake Screaming Eagles (1-2) by a final score of 41-35 at the Maverik Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Despite a rocky start on the Empire's opening possession that resulted in a tipped pass and interception, the Spokane defense would respond forcefully in the first quarter of play. Defensive lineman J. D. Griggs recorded his first of three sacks on the night and forced a fumble on the Screaming Eagles opening possession to set up Trevor Kennedy's first touchdown from 11-yards out.
The Spokane defense held Salt Lake to only three points until the final seconds of the first half when Screaming Eagles quarterback Verlon Reed connected with Breon Allen on a three-yard touchdown pass to bring the game to 28-10.
Salt Lake would go on to rally in the second half, holding the Empire to only two touchdowns during the remainder of the contest. After a touchdown run by Spokane running back Trevor Kennedy put the Empire up 41-22 early in the fourth quarter, Salt Lake return man James Calhoun took the ensuing kickoff 57-yards for a touchdown. The Screaming Eagles went on to recover the onside kick which set up an over-the-wall catch by receiver Devin Mahina, his third receiving touchdown of the game, to bring the game within one score. The Salt Lake rally would fall short, however, as they were unable to recover a second straight onside attempt and an illegal defense with seconds remaining on the clock would give Spokane a first down and allow them to close out the 41-35 road win.
Empire quarterback Charles Dowdell completed 5-of-9 pass attempts for 74 yards, two touchdowns, and three interceptions. Trevor Kennedy recorded a game-high 13 carries for 101 yards and three rushing scores. In his first game back from injury, receiver Samuel Charles recorded four receptions for 61 yards and one touchdown. Defensively, Robert Brown Jr. led the Empire with nine total tackles and five pass breakups. J.D. Griggs racked up three sacks, three tackles for loss, and one forced fumble while Andrew Jackson also recorded a sack. Pasquale Vacchio had two fumble recoveries.
Sale Lake quarterback Verlon Reed completed 19-of-36 pass attempts for 144 yards and four touchdowns. He also led the Screaming Eagles ground attack with eight carries for 33 yards. Devin Mahina led the Sale Lake receiving effort with five receptions for 29 yards and three touchdowns. Defensively, the Screaming Eagles recorded three interceptions (Unamba-2, McBee-1).
The Empire will go on the road for their second straight Intense Conference matchup in Week 5 as they visit the Colorado Crush on Friday, March 17 at the Budweiser Events Center with a 5:00 p.m. PT kickoff. The game will be broadcast live on the IFL's YouTube Channel and 700 ESPN radio and 105.3 FM with Dennis Patchin on the call.