SPOKANE, WA– The Empire (2-1) are back on the road in Week 5 of the 2017 IFL regular season for their second Intense Conference matchup. Spokane will take on the Colorado Crush (0-3) this Friday, March 17 at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland with a 5:00 p.m. PT kickoff.
Spokane held off a second-half comeback last week by Salt Lake to chalk up their first Intense Conference win of the season. After the Empire had gone up 41-22 early in the fourth quarter, the Screaming Eagles put together a 14-point swing via a 57-yard kick return and the third touchdown reception by Devin Mahina. Salt Lake failed to recover a second-straight onside kick, which allowed Spokane to run out the clock and close out the 41-35 road win.
Colorado has yet to record their first win of the season and did not fair well in their Week 4 matchup in Arizona. After the Crush had taken a 10-7 lead in the first quarter, the Rattlers went on to outscore Colorado 64-17 in route to a 71-27 win. While Colorado outgained Arizona in offensive yards, it was Arizona's efficiency and rushing attack that proved to be too much for the Crush. The Rattlers only faced one third down attempt during the game and found the end zone five times on the ground.
The Empire could see a familiar face at quarterback for the Crush this week in Aaron Aiken, who spent the 2016 season as a backup in Spokane. In his first start last week, Aiken completed 15-of-27 pass attempts for 116 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He also led the team with 12 carries for 70 yards and a rushing score.
The biggest test for Spokane in Week 5 could very well be time. The team played just four days ago in Salt Lake City and with traveling between Utah and Colorado, only had one day of practice and install in preparation for the Crush.
Beyond the short turnaround between games, the Empire will look to take advantage of a Colorado defense which has surrendered a league-high 55.7 points per game. While Spokane has come away with two wins in their first three games, the defense has been the solidifying element to the team's success. Offensively, the Empire has surrendered the football a league-high nine times through three games which ranks them as the second-worst turnover margin in the IFL through Week 4 (-4).
While the offense continues to gel, the defense has shined as they are tied for the league-lead with eight sacks on the season and are allowing only 4.1 yards per play with 95 total rushing yards allowed.
This week's game in Colorado will be broadcast live on the IFL's YouTube Channel and 700 ESPN radio and 105.3 FM with Dennis Patchin on the call.