04/30/2016 8:47 PM
SPOKANE – The Tri-Cities Fever is still trying to figure out a way to solve the Spokane Empire puzzle.
The Fever could not hold a halftime lead as the Empire rallied for a 53-51 win Friday night at Spokane Arena. It is the Fever’s third loss to the Empire this season, and second in less than seven days.
The Fever (3-6) is on the road again next Saturday night when it takes on the Cedar Rapids Titans. Kickoff is 5:05 p.m. Spokane improved to 7-1 and is first place in the Intense Conference.
Tri-Cities, which lost to the Empire 52-39 at the Toyota Center last Saturday, jumped out to a 31-18 lead at halftime. However, the lead was quickly erased in the third quarter as Spokane scored the first 14 points of the second half.
The Empire scored 28 third-quarter points after scoring just 18 in the entire first half.
The Fever came back to take a 34-32 lead on field goal, and then lead again 42-40 on an Akeem Foster touchdown catch. But the Empire took the lead for good at 46-42 late in the third quarter.
Tri-Cities, trailing 53-51, had a chance to score the go-head touchdown, but had its drive stopped with less than four minutes remaining in the game on interception by Tyree Robinson.
Pat McCain made the start at quarterback for the Fever and tossed a season-high five touchdown passes. He was 16 of 26 passing for 224 yards. He also rushed for a team-high 27 yards and a touchdown.
Foster led all Fever receivers with seven catches for 107 yards and three touchdowns.
The Fever got off to a fast start and it appeared to put last week’s loss to the Empire behind them. After a back-and-forth first quarter, Foster’s 2-yard TD catch gave the Fever a 20-12 advantage. His second TD catch of the first half came with 3:04 remaining in the second quarter to push the lead to 28-18.
Bobby Zalud capped the impressive first half with a 33-yard field goal as time expired to give Tri-Cities a 31-18 lead.
After Spokane rallied to take a 53-42 lead, Foster caught his third touchdown pass of the night, this time from 31 yards out to cut the margin to 53-50. The Fever recorded a rouge on the ensuing kickoff to cut the margin to 53-51 with 10:47 remaining in the game. The rouge was the last point in the game for either team.
The Fever was able to overcome four turnovers in the game and had 222 yards of total offense. Spokane had 341. Trevor Kennedy, the league’s leading rusher, had 19 carries for 110 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Empire offense.
Dee Maggitt Jr. added to his league leading interception total with his seventh interception of the season. Stephen Godbolt led the Fever with eight tackles.