Tri-Cities Fever

Fever spot Empire early lead, can’t rally in 52-39 loss

Special to the Herald

The Tri-Cities Fever found out how hard it is to spot one of the Indoor Football League’s top teams a 20-0 lead and then try to win.

It was just impossible on Saturday night at Toyota Center, as the visiting Spokane Empire beat the Fever 52-39.

With the loss, the Fever dropped to 3-5 to reach the halfway point of the IFL season under .500.

The Empire, meanwhile, improve to 6-1 and remain in control of the Intense Division.

Things looked positive in the beginning for the Fever when Dee Maggitt intercepted Spokane quarterback Charles Dowdell on the game’s opening series. It was Maggitt’s sixth pick this season. He leads the IFL in that category.

But here was the problem: The Fever offensive unit went 0-for-4 to start the game.

And before anyone knew it, the Empire led 20-0.

On the ensuing series after Maggitt’s pick, the Fever couldn’t move the ball, and kicker Daniel Zeidman’s 53-yard field goal attempt was no good.

Spokane responded with a 30-yard touchdown pass from Charles Dowdell to Trevor Kennedy.

Then, Fever quarterback Hunter Wanket had his pass intercepted at the goal line by the Empire’s Robert Brown.

That was eventually turned into a 7-yard TD pass from Dowdell to Jefferson Hayes.

And on the ensuing series, Fever running back Rob Brown — whose twin brother made the interception earlier for Spokane — fumbled the football.

Three plays later, Dowdell fired an 8-yard scoring strike to Carl Sims. And just like that, with 12 minutes, 5 seconds gone in the game, the Empire led 20-0.

Fever coach Ryan Lingenfelder made the switch at quarterback, replacing Wanket with Pat McCain.

That provided some success, as McCain scored on TD runs on the next two Fever series. But it was too little, too late.

Kennedy, the league’s favorite for rookie of the year, scored three touchdowns and had 95 total yards for Spokane. Dowdell finished with four TD passes.

McCain finished with 94 yards passing and 107 rushing.

These two teams meet again Friday at the Spokane Arena.