LOVELAND, Colorado (March 17, 2017) – The Empire (3-1) went on the road in Week 5 of the 2017 IFL regular season and defeated the Colorado Crush (0-4) by a final score of 70-37 at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland.
Colorado's first and only lead of the game came after their opening possession as quarterback Sean Goldrich connected with Erick Brundidge on a seven-yard pass. Spokane would go on to debut their wishbone formation for the first time in the season with linebackers Nick Haag and Pasquale Vacchio leading the way for a two-yard touchdown run by Mulku Kolokoh. After a Vacchio interception on the Crush's second possession, quarterback Charles Dowdell would connect with receiver Devon Brown for the first of four touchdown receptions on the night to take a 13-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter of play belonged to the Empire as they recovered two fumbles, forced a turnover on downs, and only allowed the Crush offense to score three points in the quarter via a 48-yard field goal. Spokane quarterback Charles Dowdell connected with three different receivers on touchdown passes (Charles, Kalokoh, Brown) as the Empire would close out the half leading 35-10.
The Crush put two successful drives together in the third quarter, but the league's worst defense was still unable to find an answer for the Empire who matched with their own scoring drives to maintain a 49-23 lead.
The two teams would continue to trade blows going into the final quarter of play while the Spokane defense would continue to control the game. Rookie defensive back John Hardy-Tuliau recorded an interception late in the fourth quarter and defensive lineman J.D. Griggs continued to add to his team-high sack total on the season (4.5). With just three seconds left to play, Spokane backup quarterback Aaron Wilmer threw his first touchdown pass of his indoor career as he connected with Bryan Pray from nine-yards out to seal the 70-37 win.
Spokane quarterback Charles Dowdell completed 17-of-23 pass attempts for 200 yards and seven touchdowns to four different receivers on the night. Devonn Brown had a breakout evening as he led the Empire receiving effort with eight catches for 75 yards and four touchdowns. Mulku Kalokoh posted an all-around night as he rushed eight times for 38 yards and two touchdowns while adding three receptions for 34 yards and a score.
The Spokane defense was stellar on the night, led by Tyree Robinson with ten total tackles and Pasquale Vacchio with nine tackles and one interception. The unit as a whole limited the Crush to 4-of-9 on third downs while racking up three sacks and two fumble recoveries.
Colorado quarterback Sean Goldrich completed 5-of-8 pass attempts for 55 yards, one touchdown, and one interception before leaving the game with a shoulder injury. Aaron Aiken went on to complete 8-of-15 of his passes for 70 yards and two touchdowns. He also added one rushing score. Paris Cotton led the Crush in the ground game with seven rushes for 30 yards and one score. Erick Brundidge led the Colorado receiving effort with six receptions for 69 yards and two touchdowns.