SPOKANE, WA – The Spokane Empire (7-5, 6-3) will meet the Colorado Crush (3-9, 2-8) in Week 15 of the 2017 Indoor Football League regular season for Military Appreciation Night on Friday, May 26 at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena with a 7 pm PST kickoff.
The Empire wrap up this year's series against Colorado in Spokane's penultimate home game of the regular season. For the first time in their history, the Empire have lost three games in a row, and the penalty for a losing streak this late in the season is severe. As of press time, the defending Intense Conference Champions are in third place, now on the outside looking in at the playoff picture with four games left to go.
Last week's contest in Loveland was heartbreaking for the Empire and provided some solace for Colorado as they recorded their second home win of the season, upsetting Spokane by a score of 45-36. Quarterback Sean Goldrich had a career night, passing for 184 yards and 5 touchdowns for his Crush, both season highs.
This was also Goldrich's first game without an interception thrown since his Week 2 effort versus Nebraska. Empire quarterback Charles Dowdell, try as he might, just couldn't keep up. Dowdell was only able to record one touchdown and threw two costly picks, which Colorado turned into 10 points off of those turnovers. Dowdell finished his night 12-22 and 135 yards.
With Spokane's recent roster moves, we will see Aaron Wilmer take the reigns at the QB position as Dowdell was released on Tuesday. In Colorado, Wilmer stepped in mid 4th quarter shortly racking up 70 yards and one touchdown. He also contributed on the ground with 14 rushing yards and a score. The question now is how the rookie will fair in his first full game against a red hot Goldrich.
Defensively, Spokane certainly missed cornerback Robert Brown last week, who was released to add kicker Brian Jackson without being in violation of the IFL veteran rule. Jackson comes back to Spokane for the first time since 2009, where he was the leg behind the championship season for the then Shock.
Nick Haag also made his return from NFL rookie camp to keep up some veteran leadership on the defensive side of the ball. Haag accounted for one of Spokane's two sacks last week, the other coming from J.D. Griggs who adds to his IFL leading total, now at 9.5.
There is no longer anyone wearing the Coal Black in the top of the rushing categories despite Trevor Kennedy running for 97 yards against Colorado's defense, his closest game to the century mark since Week 4. Kennedy suited up for two of the three previous games against the Crush, scoring at least one touchdown in both. He'll hope to go three for three on Friday on top of adding to his total of 146 rushing yards against this now familiar defense.
The rushing game for Colorado on the other hand couldn't get going at all with only 7 yards gained on 16 carries as a team. Instead, it was the air raid that Spokane fell victim to as all three wide receivers on the stat sheet for the Crush recorded touchdowns. Even running back Josh Ford had better luck as a receiver than a rusher, recording 13 yards on two catches compared to 15 yards on 11 touches. The Empire are in for another rough night if they can't figure out Colorado's revamped passing attack.
Spokane's receiving corps isn't to be looked past though. Veteran Bryan Pray leads the Empire with 48 catches for 532 yards and 14 TDs. Right behind is Devonn Brown, with 398 yards on 37 catches. Riding the hot streak lately for the Empire is Samuel Charles, who is on a roll with 161 receiving yards and five end zone trips in his last three games.
Friday's game will broadcast live on the IFL's YouTube Channel also available on 700 ESPN and 105.3 FM radio in Spokane with Larry Weir on the call.