There will be a feeling of déjà vu for the Tri-Cities Fever when they visit the Spokane Empire tonight in a rematch of last week’s IFL game.
The Fever can only hope it doesn’t go bad all over again after the 7 p.m. kickoff.
A 52-39 loss to the Empire left Tri-Cities at 3-5 halfway through the regular season and in fourth place among the five teams in the Intense Conference. Spokane (6-1) sits in first place, winners of four straight.
If the Fever get off to the kind of start they had last week, they will have a tough time keeping the Empire (6-1) from their fifth straight victory.
Spokane jumped out to a 20-0 lead, taking advantage of an early fumble and interception. That same margin held until the Fever scored in the final minute.
Work to be done
The biggest task for the Fever offense will be finding its stride early, and it would seem that getting quarterback Patrick McCain involved early would be key.
McCain took over for regular starter Hunter Wanket in the second quarter and ran for 107 yards on 13 carries and also was 12-for-21 for 94 yards in the air. He ran for a pair of touchdowns in the second quarter to help cut the deficit to 27-14. His 27-yard scoring toss to Dejuan Miller pulled the Fever within 10 late in the third quarter.
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The chore for the Fever defense will be keeping tabs on Empire running back Trevor Kennedy, who had 65 yards and two TDs on the ground last week and also caught a 30-yard pass for another score.
Spokane QB Charles Dowdell ran for a touchdown and threw for four more. However, he also was 8-for-20 and threw two picks.
Dowdell leads the IFL in TD passes with 32 and is fourth in passing yards with 156.1 per game. Kennedy is tops in rushing yards (63.0) and tied for first in TDs (17). Receiver Jefferson Hayes is fourth with 68 receiving yards per game. ... Defensively, Spokane DL Bryon Bennett and Benjamin Perry are tied for fourth in the league with 3 1/2 sacks. ... Tri-Cities’ Dee Maggitt Jr. leads the IFL with six INTs.