SPOKANE, WA - The Empire (5-2, 4-1) held off the Colorado Crush (1-6, 1-6) in Week 9 of the 2017 IFL regular season by a final score of 36-24 at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena.
The first game between these two saw Spokane dominate from the opening whistle to the final horn by a score of 70-37 four weeks ago. Both teams coming off a bye during Week 8 looked for something to prove, with Spokane trying to bounce back from a Nebraska Danger defeat, and Colorado looking to rail off two wins in a row.
Mostly a defensive effort early on, the first points in the game came from a 19 yard field goal by the Empire's Craig Peterson. The Crush responded with a Touchdown, quarterback Liam Nadler hitting wide receiver Chris Gant for the first end zone trip of the night. Running back Trevor Kennedy would make his return, scoring the Empire's first touchdown of the game in what turned out to be a back and forth first half. After the Crush's Spencer Groner drove in a 42 yard field goal, Peterson would heat up, hitting a bigger field goal from 56 yards.
After the battle of the kickers, Nadler shined a bit brighter for Colorado with a 27 yard pass to Kyle Kaiser to open the third quarter. Spokane answered right back with a Charles Dowdell run from 22 yards out. Not to be outdone, Nadler would dive into the endzone himself for a score. Nadler would end his night going 9-18 with 62 yards and two touchdowns in the air, and 43 yards and one touchdown on the ground.
Fourth quarter action was all Spokane as they pulled away. Peterson added three more points to the tally, going three for four on his field goal attempts on the night. The Crush couldn't find any footing as their next possession ended with a costly strip sack from Harold Love and John Griggs, with Andrew Jackson on the recovery. The turnover became another end zone trip with Dowdell finding Bryan Pray for to go up by double digits late. Colorado looked to Groner to keep them alive with a field goal, but was wide left. The clock would wind down to an Empire victory.
For Spokane, QB Dowdell finished 18-26 with 126 passing yards and two touchdowns. He rushed for 54 yards and a score as well. The Empire's leading receiver was Pray, catching 6 balls for 50 yards and two touchdowns. Defensive back John Hardy-Tuliau led the charge on the other side of the ball with nine total tackles, including two for loss. Credit linebacker Nick Haag for two forced fumbles, and a sack and a half for 18 yards. There were zero interceptions by either team all game.