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Empire pull away in final minute to beat Barnstormers 54-34

DES MOINES, Iowa – Charles Dowdell completed 15 of 20 passes for 207 yards and five touchdowns and the Spokane Empire swept the season series from the Iowa Barnstomers with a 54-34 victory on Saturday night for their third consecutive Indoor Football League victory.

The Empire (5-1) held on for a 54-51 victory over the Barnstormers (3-4) in Spokane on April 1 and Iowa was within seven points Saturday, 41-34, after scoring with 2:18 remaining.

But Trevor Kennedy returned the ensuing kickoff 47 yards for a score before Tyree Robinson made an interception at the Spokane 1-yard-line with under a minute to go. Dowdell threw 37 yards to Samuel Charles for the game’s final score.

The Empire never trailed after taking a 13-7 lead with 36 left in the first quarter on Carl Sims’ 6-yard run. Iowa got within five points twice after that.

Sims finished with three touchdowns, two receiving. Charles also had two touchdown catches and Justin Helwege one. Kennedy added another score on the ground.

Josh Ferguson also had an interception for the Empire and Toby Jackson made 1 1/2 sacks and forced two fumbles with Spokane’s Benjamin Perry recovering one of them.

Kennedy had a 3-yard scoring run to go along with his kickoff return.

Iowa outgained Spokane 286-241 and had more first downs (22-17) but couldn’t overcome Dowdell’s passing efficiency nor the Empire’s big plays on defense and special teams.

Dowdell was intercepted once but the Empire didn’t fumble.

The Empire plays at Tri-City on Saturday, the first of two consecutive games against the Fever, with the second on April 29 in Spokane. Both games against Tri-City are at 7 p.m.

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