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Late turnover costly in Empire’s loss at Sioux Falls

Mistake-prone Spokane nearly came back from a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit.

But the visiting Empire committed one more costly miscue, a turnover with less than a minute remaining and Sioux Falls held on for a 63-50 Indoor Football League victory Saturday at Denny Sanford Premier Center.

Five-time defending IFL champion Sioux Falls (10-1) won the first of two meetings with Spokane (8-2), which saw its six-game winning streak come to an end. The teams will meet in Spokane on June 18.

Spokane closed within 56-50 on Trevor Kennedy’s 2-yard touchdown run and a successful two-point conversion. The Empire was back in business when Diondre Borel recovered Steven Wakefield’s onside kick.

Quarterback Charles Dowdell tried to find receiver Carl Sims but was picked off by Sioux Falls linebacker Tyler Knight. Mike Tatum’s 30-yard touchdown run sealed the Storm’s 57th consecutive home win dating back to the 2010 season.

Dowdell passed for 291 yards and accounted for six touchdowns, five passing and one running, but he was intercepted four times, twice by Knight, the IFL defensive player of the year in 2013 and 2014.

Spokane sputtered in the red zone from late in the first half through the third period, stalling on four straight possessions that reached at least the Storm 6-yard line.

Both teams were stung by penalties. Spokane was flagged 14 times for 77 yards; Sioux Falls 12 for 96 yards.

Sims, who played for Sioux Falls in 2011-12, had seven receptions for 129 yards and two touchdowns. The Storm limited Kennedy to 30 yards on 15 carries.

Sioux Falls quarterback Lorenzo Brown had five touchdown passes and one of the team’s four rushing TDs. Sioux Falls had 156 rushing yards, 120 more than Spokane on three fewer attempts.

The teams traded touchdowns and the lead for most of the first half. Dowdell tossed four touchdown passes, two to Kennedy, to finish off Spokane’s first four possessions. The Storm answered each time with touchdowns and picked up one point on a rouge to take a 29-28 lead.

The Empire moved to the Storm’s 4-yard line but couldn’t overcome two false-start penalties and turned the ball over on downs. Brown’s 16-yard touchdown pass to Tatum put the Storm on top 36-28 at half.

Spokane had 27 seconds to work with and marched to Sioux Falls’ 6 but Dowdell was intercepted by Knight in the end zone.

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