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Empire Taken Down by Rattlers, 33-16

June 4, 2017 - Indoor Football League (IFL) - Spokane Empire News Release

SPOKANE, WA - The Spokane Empire (8-6, 7-4) were defeated by the Arizona Rattlers (10-4, 7-1) in Week 16 of the 2017 IFL regular season at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena by a score of 33-16.

The night started out with the Rattlers striking quick, with Cody Sokol using a variety of plays in the drive, ending with a pitch out to Darrel Monroe for the important first touchdown. Spokane was fast to respond with their drive taking half the time of Arizona's previous effort, with Aaron Wilmer finding Orlandus Harris for the Empire's first score.

Spokane's defense looked great out of the gate, frustrating Sokol to the point of a four down turnover. Arizona's D would return the favor putting pressure on Wilmer, but they couldn't stop Brendon Garcia from hitting a 42 yard field goal for Spokane's only lead of the game.

Once more, the Empire defense would keep pounding the Rattlers, forcing a fourth down and a failed conversion for Sokol which would make a six minute drive moot. The Rattlers defense wouldn't let the Spokane offense take advantage of the turnovers, and keep Wilmer at bay for the Empire's first turnover. If you loved defense, this was your quarter of football to watch, as again Spokane would force Arizona to turn the ball over after Sawyer Petre missed a 44 yard field goal attempt.

Arizona's defense tired of this back and forth, and forced points to be slapped on the board. Edward Mosley and Chris McAllister would take Wilmer back five yards from his line of scrimmage to score a safety. On the ensuing possession, Sokol still couldn't yet figure out the Empire defense, succumbing to a fumble on a handoff attempt with Bill Vavau on the recovery for Spokane.

The stars of the game were just getting warmed up. They of course, being the Arizona defense. McAllister sacked Wilmer, forcing a fourth down field goal attempt that Garcia just missed. The Rattlers would find the endzone right before half to gain momentum, with Sokol hitting Anthony Amos for six.

After the break, the Empire couldn't finish their opening drive strong, turning the ball over to Arizona deep in their territory. Just when it looked like the Rattlers would get the upper hand, Sokol threw an ill-timed interception to John Hardy-Tuliau, setting up the Empire once more for a potential scoring drive. That score wouldn't come though, as the Rattlers kept suffocating Spokane for yet another four down turnover. Sokol would launch a big pass to Ketrich Harmon, setting up for the Antonio Vaughan rushing score.

A wish was seemingly granted for Spokane when Petre hooked his next field goal attempt, his first miss within 25 yards all year. Kennedy would rush for 26 yards to give the Empire some hope, but the Rattlers D would have none of it. Again, Wilmer would be stopped short on fourth down. Kaelim Burnett would help Spokane keep Sokol from positive yardage, but Petre would avenge his earlier miss with a make from 34.

Next possession was a one play score for the Empire, with Kennedy's kickoff return of 48 yards setting up his two yard touchdown run. Spokane couldn't connect on the two point conversion to get within one score, and they would pay dearly for it. Arizona's next series would also be a one play score with Sokol pitching out to Monroe, who broke two tackles en route to a 41 yard touchdown.

Since defense started the game, it's only right that defense ends it. Wilmer would throw his first interception late to Allen Chapman. When it seemed over then and there, Arizona would fumble once again, with Burnett coming up with the ball. It was now Spokane's last chance to score with time running out. Marcus McDade came in under center to see the final series, but would be picked off for Spokane's second possession in a row, this time to Arkeith Brown. Arizona would run out the clock to win both the game, and the series against the Empire.

Seven players for the Rattlers got rushing touches, the leader being Vaughn with 31 yards and a touchdown. Monroe's big run after a reception made him the leading receiver of the night, with 65 yards and two scores. Sokol ends his night 13-22 for 148 yards and three passing touchdowns. McAllister led the defense with six tackles, one sack, and 3.5 tackles for loss.

Of the seven possessions that ended with a turnover on downs, five of them belonged to the Empire. Spokane's rushing game didn't fare well, with Kennedy and Pierce combining only for 16 yards. Wilmer went 11-28 for 115 yards and one touchdown. Burnett had a good showing defensively with ten total tackles, including one for loss. Jackson lead the team in solo tackles with six, and Hardy-Tuliau added eight total tackles on his evening with his interception.

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SPOKANE'S NEXT GAME:

The Empire hit the road for the final two games of the year, starting next week in Des Moines to face the red hot Barnstormers. The game kicks off Friday, June 9th at 5:05 pm Pacific time. The game will be broadcast live on the IFL's YouTube channel, and will also be available on the 700 ESPN and 105.3 FM radio stations in Spokane with Larry Weir on the call.

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