Empire Edge Blizzard 34-31

Photo Credit: Erik Smith Photography
Photo Credit: Erik Smith Photography

The Empire (1-0) defeated the Green Bay Blizzard (1-1) in Week 2 of the 2017 IFL regular season by a final score of 34-31 at Spokane Arena.

Spokane's opening drive of the game featured critical catches by each of the recent receiver additions, and current top two all-time IFL leaders, in Bryan Pray and Carl Sims before quarterback Charles Dowdell would score the first touchdown of the Empire's 2017 season on a three-yard option-keeper.

Green Bay responded with a successful opening drive and then took a 10-7 lead after defensive back Manny Asprilla intercepted an Empire pass in the end zone and returned it 53-yards for a score.

The exciting start of the game quickly became a defensive slugfest in the next two-quarters as the teams would combine for only two touchdowns on eight total possessions.

Empire defensive back Robert Brown came up with a key 39-yard interception return for a touchdown at the start the fourth quarter to give Spokane a 25-17 advantage.

Down the stretch, Spokane's 9th Man helped caused back-to-back false starts that put Green Bay in a fourth-and-long situation resulting in a turnover on downs. After a nine-point swing for the Empire, the Blizzard was able to pull the game to within reach at 34-31 with thirty seconds remaining, but a failed onside kick attempt would allow Spokane to run out the clock and secure their first victory of the season.

Quarterback Matt Behrendt led the Blizzard in offensive yards as he completed 14-of-33 pass attempts for 169 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. He also added four carries on the night for 28 yards. Marquel Willis led Green Bay receiving effort with five catches for 69 yards and two scores. Defensively, defensive back Manny Asprilla recorded four tackles, one tackle for loss, and one interception which was returned 54-yards for a score. Tyrell Pearson also recorded an interception while defensive linemen Karl Mickelsen and Cory Grissom each recorded a sack.

Empire quarterback Charles Dowdell completed 8-of-16 passes on the night for 86 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. He added 11 carries for 106 yards and two rushing scores. Running back Mulku Kalokoh also added one rushing touchdown on the night. Bryan Pray led the Spokane receivers with three receptions for 41 yards and one touchdown. On defense, Pasquale Vacchio recorded nine total tackles on the night while Toby Jackson recorded three tackles, two tackles for loss, and one sack. Robert Brown recorded Spokane's lone interception.