Week 17 - Barnstormers run away from Empire, 58-28 Jun 9, 2017 21:04:47 GMT -8
Post by DiamondThief on Jun 9, 2017 21:04:47 GMT -8
DES MOINES, IA - The Iowa Barnstormers scored 21 second-quarter points, and added 28 in the second half, as they had no problem putting away the Spokane Empire tonight, 58-28. The game had a profound impact on the playoff races in both the United and Intense Conferences.
The Barnstormers set up a dramatic matchup with the six-time defending champion Sioux Falls Storm in the teams' season finale on June 17. Iowa has two scenarios in which they can make the playoffs. The first is, simply put, win and they are in as regular season conference champions and they would host the conference championship game. The second would be that if they lose, but the Wichita Falls Nighthawks lose as well, they would go in as the second seed. Should the Barnstormers lose and the Nighthawks win, the Storm would win the conference and Wichita Falls would be the second seed. Of note, if the Barnstormers win next week, and if the Nighthawks win on June 10 and on June 17, the Storm would fail to make the playoffs nor repeat as champions for a seventh straight season.
For Spokane, there is still realistic playoff hopes, but it will be determined by three games or, possibly just one. They need to win next week, and they need for the Nebraska Danger to lose both of their remaining games, week 17 against the Storm, and week 18 against the Nighthawks. That will be no easy task. As the Empire have dropped five of their last six. The will head to Salt Lake City to face the Screaming Eagles on June 16. The Empire and Danger went into week 17 with identical 8-6 records, but Nebraska holds the tiebreaker due to winning the season series over the Empire, 1-0. The Arizona Rattlers, at 10-4, have already clinched the regular season Intense Conference championship.
With tonight's win, the Barnstormers claimed a franchise record 11th straight win. They have not lost since March 20, to the Storm in a clobbering, 70-13.
The first quarter looked to be a defensive slug fest. Iowa struck first on their first possession on a 29-yard pass from Travis Partridge to Brady Roland.
The Barnstormers struck again early in the second quarter on a 45-yard pass from Partridge to Roland. Spokane got on the board with just under two minutes left in the half on a six-yard pass from Aaron Wilmer to Bryan Pray. The Barnstormers answered with a run from Partridge and 16-yard pass from Partridge to Ryan Balentine. Iowa led 28-7 at intermission.
Spokane made a change at quarterback in the final seconds of the half by inserting Marcus McDade for the ineffective Wilmer.
The Empire drew to within 28-13 on Andrew Pierce's six-yard run before the Barnstormers answered with a 16-yard pass from Partridge to Roland. Brendon Garcia's 31-yard field goal pulled Spokane to within 35-16 by the end of the third.
The fourth quarter provided plenty of fireworks. Partridge put the Barnstormers up by 26 with his 16-yard run early in the quarter. McDade answered with a one-yard run before Keshaudas Spence put Iowa up 49-22. Spokane once again answered when Pierce ran in from three yards. Balentine's six-yard pass from Partridge. The Barnstormers added a safety when the Empire were called for holding in the end zone.
Iowa out-gained Spokane in total yards, 282 to 164, with a 186 to 81 advantage in the passing game. There were 17 combined penalties in the game, with the Empire being flagged nine times for 65 yards and the Barnstormers eight times for 64 yards.
Partridge completed just nine of 19 passes for 186 yards with five touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. He also rushed 13 times for 88 yards and two touchdowns Spence had 15 yards on five carries and a touchdowns. Roland finished with four catches for 104 yards and three touchdowns. Lucas Hefty caught two passes for 41 yards, and Balentine had a pair of catches for 22 yards and two scores. Bryce Enyard led all defensive players with 11 total tackles, while Jamie Bender had an interception; his fifth in the past two games.
Wilmer went eight of 15 for 43 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He also had 46 yards on four carries. McDade completed just 33 percent of his passes for 38 yards, and ran for a score. Pierce finished with seven rushes for 35 yards and two touchdown runs. Devon Brown and Bryan Pray had three receptions each, for 27 and 19 yards, respectively. John Hardy-Tuliau picked off Partridge twice, while Andrew Jackson tallied six total tackles to lead the Empire defense.
Spokane head coach Adam Shackelford likely will face a quarterback dilemma heading into the season finale next week. Neither Wilmer nor McDade have much experience and, barring his first start, Wilmer has largely been ineffective.
The Barnstormers (13-2) will host the Sioux Falls Storm (12-2 heading into week 17) on June 17 at 5:05 p.m. The Empire (8-7) will visit the Salt Lake Screaming Eagles (4-10 heading into week 17) on June 16 at 6 p.m. All times are pacific time.
Both of those games, as well as the majority of the league's games this season are available for streaming on the IFL's Youtube channel.
(Graphic courtesy SCtoC)
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