The Tri-Cities Fever and Spokane renewed their rivalry on turf Saturday night, with the expansion Empire pulling out a 60-51 win in the season-opener for both teams at the Toyota Center.
While the league may be different and Spokane is now called the Empire, those details didn’t seem to matter as the teams battled back and forth in the first of four meetings this season.
Spokane used a late-fourth quarter charge to pull away from the pesky Fever, who continued to battle back after trailing by as many as 17 points in the first half. The Empire scored back-to-back touchdowns on passes from Charles Dowdell, the first a nifty catch by JJ Hayes as the Empire took a 60-45 lead with 4:56 left in the game.
The Empire had control most of the night. However, two second-half fumbles allowed the Fever to get back in the game. The Fever capitalized on the second fumble to tie the game at 39 with 13:48 left in the game. On fourth-down Pat McCain hit Akeem Foster with 13:48 left in the game.
The rivalry continues when the Fever visits Spokane for the first time in 2016 on March 29.
The Fever (0-1) play at the Nebraska Danger next Saturday.