Screaming Eagles’ comeback falls short in 41-35 loss to Empire

This post has been syndicated from SaltLakeScreamingEagles.com

Salt Lake City was geared for a Monday Night party when the Screaming Eagles, following their amazing overtime win against the Colorado Crush last week in the first-ever FANchise Bowl, faced off against the Spokane Empire at the Maverik Center. The night would also mark the coaching debut of new Screaming Eagles Head Coach Matthew Sauk, who has had tremendous success throughout his career helping expansion teams get to the next level. 

From the start, an early interception by Eagles' Don Unamba gave the hometown team good field position, but they were unable to capitalize as Spokane's Trevor Kennedy ran it in 11 yards for the touchdown on the following possession. Spokane scored again a few minutes later on a two-yard pass by QB Charles Dowdell to double their lead to 14-0. 

The entire Maverik Center thought the tide had turned when Screaming Eagles DB Don Unamba came up with an amazing interception, his second of the game, to close the first quarter and charge up the crowd.

The Virtual Front Office had a tough fourth-down decision to start the second quarter, when they elected to kick a 38-yard field goal to get on the scoreboard, 14-3. However, the Empire would not let the Screaming Eagles gain any momentum. The Empire's offense scored again with a dynamic 21-yard touchdown catch by WR Samuel Charles and another 13-yard touchdown by WR Dejuan Miller, giving the Empire a comfortable 28-3 lead. The fan playcallers rallied as Verlon Reed Jr. led his team to the two-yard line with three seconds left in the first half. The fans called a pass, and Verlon Reed connected with Breon Allen for a touchdown as the horn sounded to make it 28-10. 

To open the third quarter the Screaming Eagles' Virtual Front Office came together and provided Indoor Football League Player of Week honoree Verlon Reed with a script to work with. Reed rose to the occasion and drove his team down the field before hitting Devin Mahina for one of this three touchdowns to open the second half. 

However, the Empire responded immediately with a quick drive that ended with an eight-yard score by the Player of the Game, Trevor Kennedy, who finished with 13 carries for 101 yards and three touchdowns. 

The Screaming Eagles were intent on mounting a comeback in Coach Sauk's debut, and that started with recently signed return man James Calhoun taking the kickoff 58 yards to the house.

Following a failed PAT attempt, Sauk's team was down 41-28 with eight minutes remaining. The momentum continued when the onside kick was recovered by Salt Lake and Reed went back to work, finding Mahina for a touchdown with a minute remaining to pull within six points. 

Unfortunately, for the Eagles, the comeback attempt fell short as the Empire were able to recover the onside kick and run out the clock. 

In Coach Sauk's first game, the Screaming Eagles played a great second half against last year's Intense Conference champions. Verlon Reed Jr. rebounded from an early fumble with another stellar gam, throwing for 144-yards and four touchdowns. Devin Mahina reeled in three touchdown catches and Don Unamba added two interceptions and eight tackles on the defensive side. The two teams will face off again Friday, March 24, in Spokane. 

FINAL SCORE: Spokane Empire (2-1), 41 - SCREAMING EAGLES (1-2), 35

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