04/24/2016 3:49 AM
After a game there are typically plenty of theories or reasons for why things went well or didn’t go so well. That was not the case Saturday night.
Tri-Cities players and coaches were all in agreement as to why they suffered a 52-39 loss to rival Spokane.
“We can’t fall behind like that,” said Fever quarterback Pat McCain.
McCain was referring to the 20-0 first-quarter hole the Fever dug. The Fever would get as close as 10 points late in the third quarter, but that would be it.
“We can’t come out and not be in rhythm against a team like that,” said receiver Akeem Foster. “The receivers, including myself, and everyone on offense need to get off to a faster start.”
With the loss, the Fever falls to 3-5 at the halfway point of the season with another date against the Empire (6-1) next Friday night in Spokane.
The Empire and former Fever coach Adam Shackleford is 2-0 against Tri-Cities this season.
The Fever defense did its best to get the offense opportunities to make a comeback, keeping the Empire scoreless on three first-half possessions. But Tri-Cities could not capitalize as it turned the ball over three times (interception, fumble, and muffed kickoff) in the first 30 minutes.
Tri-Cities closed the margin in the second and third quarters, outscoring the Empire 23-13, including a 6-0 advantage in the third quarter. But the Empire behind quarterback Charles Dowdell had the answer early in the fourth quarter on a 4-yard run to push the margin back to 39-23.
“We kept fighting, but we could never get to the top of the hill,” McCain said.
McCain, who played almost the entire game last week in a win over Colorado, came in for Hunter Wanket in the first half, leading the Fever to scores on his first three possessions.
McCain finished the game 12 of 21 passing for 94 yards and one touchdown and one interception. He also had 13 rushes for a season-high 107 yards and two touchdowns. Rob Brown added 28 yards rushing and two TDs. Tri-Cities offense had 237 yards of total offense.
Foster led all receivers with seven catches for 46 yards.
“We need to help our defense; they were battling,” Foster said.
Tri-Cities allowed 209 yards of total offense and forced two turnovers. Brandon Wilson led the team with five tackles. Dee Maggitt Jr. and Austen Alber had interceptions for the Fever.
“You learn something every game,” McCain said. “I think we have learned a lot and the second half (of the season) will be different.”