Week 18 - Late TD lifts Screaming Eagles past Empire, 45-42 Jun 16, 2017 22:23:29 GMT -8
Post by DiamondThief on Jun 16, 2017 22:23:29 GMT -8
WEST VALLEY CITY, UTAH - Verlon Reed and the Salt Lake Screaming Eagles had an opportunity to play spoiler in their season finale at home against the Spokane Empire, and they took advantage of that chance.
Verlon Reed's two-yard pass to Devin Mahina as the clock expired lifted the Screaming Eagles to their fifth win of the season by a 45-42 final tally. More impactfully, the Screaming Eagles eliminate the Empire from the playoffs from the Intense Conference. Heading into the week, the Empire needed to win and needed the Nebraska Danger to defeat the Wichita Falls Nighthawks -- no easy task -- on Saturday night (June 17). Now, the Empire are out of the playoffs and the Danger are in, regardless of the outcome of their game against the Nighthawks. That scenario could play a part in the United Conference playoff race.
Nebraska is solidified as the second seed in the Intense Conference. In next week's conference championship game, they will face the first seeded Arizona Rattlers, who closed out their season tonight with a 47-44 overtime win over the Colorado Crush. In the United Conference, Wichita Falls can make the playoffs with a win. If they lose, they are out. The Danger have nothing to play for, other than momentum heading into that conference championship game. Wichita Falls may be able to find an opening.
The big match up tomorrow night comes when the Iowa Barnstormers host the Sioux Falls Storm. The winner of that game will earn the top seed in the United Conference. The loser of that game will be dependent on the Danger-Nighthawks game. If the Nighthawks win, then the loser between the Storm and Barnstormers will be out of the playoffs. If the Nighthawks lose to the Danger, the loser of the Barnstormers-Storm game will become the second seed in the conference. It should be noted that if the Storm are eliminated from the playoffs, it would ensure that there will be a new United Bowl champion for the first time in seven seasons.
Salt Lake outscored Spokane in the fourth quarter, 20-7 as they rallied for the win. The Empire led 35-25 heading into the quarter. Reed found James Poole for a 23 yard touchdown pass. The Screaming Eagles took a 39-35 lead with 8:05 left. On the Empire's next drive, Trevor Kennedy caught a 12-yard pass from Marcus McDade to pull into the lead at 42-39. That set up Reed's heroics in the final 2:19. It is the third fourth quarter or overtime win engineered by Reed this season.
The Empire struck first in the opening quarter with a 15-yard run by Andrew Pierce. It would be the first of Pierce's three touchdown runs on the night, and he caught a touchdown pass, as well. The Screaming Eagles answered on Reed's 10-yard pass to Chris Robinson. The Empire re-took the lead when Marcus McDade found Bryan Pray from five yards out.
That set up a lively second quarter which saw Salt Lake score 12 straight points on a two-yard pass from Reed to Devin Mahina, and a one-yard run from James Poole. The Empire tied the game at 19-19 on Pierce's two-yard run, and took the lead on Pierce's six-yard run with 3:01 left in the first half. Devin Mahina's 18-yard touchdown from Reed drew the Screaming Eagles to within one at 26-25 before the Empire scored on Pierce's five-yard touchdown grab from McDade.
The Empire increased their lead to 35-25 in the third quarter on Brendon Garcia's 26-yard field goal.
Spokane held a slight edge in total offense, 198 yards to 177. The Empire did their damage on the ground, outgaining the Screaming Eagles 136 to 72. The Empire were called for 12 penalties for 87 yards, while Salt Lake was flagged six times for 35 yards.
Reed completed 11 of 17 passes for 115 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions. He rushed 13 times for 44 yards and a score. Poole had six carries for 13 yards and a touchdown, while catching three passes for 40 yards and another score.Devin Mahina was solid in the passing game, with all of his three catches being for touchdowns. Gionni Paul had 6.5 total tackles for the Screaming Eagles.
McDade went seven of 16 for 75 yards and three touchdowns. Pierce ran for 112 yards on 16 carries. The 116 yards were a high for a Spokane player this season. Kennedy gained 15 yards on three carries, and had a 12-yard touchdown catch. Bryan Pray grabbed four balls for 33 yards and a score. Terrance Woodard led the team in total tackles with 5.5, and Qua Cox had a fumble recovery.
The Empire end their season at 8-8. They are 5-3 at home and 3-5 on the road. After starting the season 7-2, they dropped six of their last seven games. The Screaming Eagles finished at 5-11. They were 3-5 at home and 5-3 on the road. They won three of their final six games.
(Graphic courtesy SCtoC)
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