Recap vs. Richmond Black Widows – June 1, 2019

D.C. Divas Win Fourth Straight, Rout Richmond, 70-8
DC 70, Richmond 8
By Neal Rozendaal

Richmond, VA – Kasee Hillard and Curtina Pope scored two touchdowns apiece for an efficient offense that saw eight Divas reach the end zone, and the D.C. Divas dispatched the Richmond Black Widows, 70-8. Amanda Congialdi became the first quarterback in team history to surpass 2,000 passing yards in a season, completing seven passes in nine attempts for 209 yards and five touchdowns.

The Divas (5-1) took command of the game immediately. D’Ajah Scott returned the opening kickoff to the Richmond 35-yard line, then on the first play from scrimmage, she raced 15 yards into the Black Widows’ red zone. Congialdi’s first pass of the day was a 15-yard touchdown toss to Kasee Hilliard, and the Divas had a 7-0 lead just one minute into the game.

The Black Widows (4-3) struggled to move the ball in their final contest of the year. Divas defensive lineman Sierra Skeen terrorized the Black Widows on their first drive with a tackle for loss on first down and nearly coming away with an interception on a third down incompletion. Quiana Ford returned the punt to the Black Widows 38, and the Divas were in good field position again.

Remy Olinzock and Scott carried the ball for ten yards each, and Shaquanda Gainey’s first catch of the contest picked up 12 yards to the Richmond six-yard line. Curtina Pope powered the ball over the goal line from there, and although the extra point kick was missed, the Divas led, 13-0.

Richmond responded with their longest drive of the day; aided by five D.C. penalties, the Black Widows bled over eight minutes off the clock. They started on their own 25-yard line, but a seven-yard run plus a 15-yard facemask penalty put the ball near midfield. Skeen registered a tackle for loss to set up third and 11, but Richmond then drew the Divas offsides on consecutive plays to make it third and one. A two-yard run gave the Black Widows a new set of downs at the Divas’ 42.

Kucheria Eades tackled a Richmond receiver for a big loss to force third down and 16, but although the Black Widows were stopped for a four-yard run on third down, another 15-yard facemask penalty on the Divas set the Black Widows up with a fresh set of downs at the D.C. 29-yard line.

The Divas’ defense rose to the challenge, however. Richmond gained just two yards on their next three plays, and on fourth and eight, Divas defensive back Jessica Johnson broke up a pass at the goal line to keep the Black Widows scoreless and force a turnover on downs.

The D.C. offense took over at their own 27-yard line with 1:16 left in the first quarter. Two plays later, they were in the end zone. Following a seven-yard run by Lexie Floor, Congialdi took a hit but delivered the ball to Olinzock. Remy Olinzock weaved through the Richmond defense and outraced the pursuit for a 66-yard touchdown catch. Madeleine Entwistle’s extra point kick was good, and with just 19 seconds left in the first quarter, the Divas pushed their advantage to 20-0.

Richmond started on offense from their own 33-yard line with just 11 seconds on the clock, and it looked like the Divas would lead by 20 after one quarter. The Black Widows ran the ball up the middle to run out the clock, but they fumbled the ball and the Divas recovered at the Richmond 37-yard line. The D.C. offense took the field with time for one more play in the first quarter, and Congialdi found Hilliard open for a 37-yard touchdown, Hilliard’s second scoring catch of the day. Entwistle’s extra point put the Divas on top, 27-0, as the first quarter expired.

Early in the second period, the Black Widows completed a 24-yard pass for a first down at the Divas’ 40-yard line. But a three-yard run followed by two incomplete passes set up fourth and seven, and Richmond elected to punt. The Black Widows bobbled the snap, and Ashley Clark raced through and tackled the punter at midfield to give the Divas possession there.

Curtina Pope made a nice run for 20 yards to the Richmond 30. On the next play, Congialdi escaped pressure from the defense, rolled out, and connected with Shaquanda Gainey on a 30-yard touchdown pass. Congialdi’s fourth touchdown pass of the game broke the franchise record of 1,966 passing yards in a single season, set by Allyson Hamlin in 2016. On the extra point attempt, Ashley Clark picked up a bad snap, weaved through the defense, and scored on the broken play for a two-point conversion and a 35-0 Divas lead.

Good tackling by the Divas’ special teams on the ensuing kickoff pinned Richmond at their own 18-yard line, and after a three and out, the Black Widows’ punt was downed at the Richmond 36. Pope ran for 15 yards, and after the Divas were penalized for ten yards, Shelly Freeman ran for ten to get the Divas back to the original line of scrimmage. Pope then took the handoff, collided with a Richmond defender, spun out of the tackle, and somehow zipped to the end zone for her second score of the game. Midway through the second quarter, the Divas were in command of the contest, 42-0.

The Divas’ defense was stout all game long. Richmond’s next drive was derailed by a big tackle for loss by Becca Davis, and the Black Widows were again forced to punt after three plays, kicking to their own 37.

Madeleine Entwistle took the next two carries and nearly scored on her second one, getting pulled down one yard short of the goal line. Congialdi kept the ball herself and scored on a quarterback sneak, but Entwistle would cross the goal line as well. On the extra point attempt, Congialdi – serving as the holder – picked up a bobbled snap. Just before she was sacked, Congialdi flipped the ball to Entwistle, who raced to the pylon and into the end zone for a two-point conversion. At halftime, the D.C. Divas led Richmond, 50-0.

A running clock was instituted for the second half, which sped up the rest of the contest. Richmond received the second half kickoff at midfield, and after picking up seven yards on three plays, they decided to go for it on fourth and three. Becca Davis came up with a huge sack on fourth down, however, costing Richmond 11 yards and giving the Divas the ball in Richmond territory.

Amanda Congialdi remained in the game at quarterback for the first series of the second half. As it turned out, Congialdi would see the field in the second half for just one play. On the Divas’ first offensive play of the third quarter, Congialdi found Floor down the field for a 46-yard touchdown pass. The final pass of the game for Congialdi gave her 2,021 passing yards this season, making her the first signal-caller in Divas history to eclipse 2,000 passing yards in a season. Her fifth and final touchdown pass of the game put the Divas in front, 56-0, midway through the third quarter.

Playing against the Divas’ reserves, the Black Widows were able to get a little momentum on offense. Richmond had a nice 11-yard run into Divas territory for a first down, but three straight runs after that netted just one yard and forced another punt. Curtina Pope had two strong runs to end the third quarter, and after three, the Divas led Richmond, 56-0.

The Divas began the fourth quarter at the Richmond 46-yard line, and Divas running back Hermonie Buckman made her presence felt immediately. She took the handoff and ran down the sidelines for a 21-yard gain, then on the next play, Buckman cut across the field, shook off a Richmond defender, and ran into the end zone for her first career touchdown. Hermonie Buckman’s first touchdown run gave the Divas a 63-0 advantage early in the fourth quarter.

The Divas defense continued their outstanding play, forcing another three and out and another Richmond punt attempt. This time, Courtney Smith fielded a short kick and returned it 39 yards for the touchdown. Entwistle’s extra point kick was good, and the Divas led, 70-0, midway through the fourth quarter.

Richmond finally got on the scoreboard late in the game. A squib kick by the Divas was recovered by Richmond at the D.C. 41-yard line. That was followed by a long pass where Kucheria Eades made a shoestring tackle at the four-yard line to prevent a Richmond touchdown. It was a short reprieve, however, as Richmond’s Mona Coley took the handoff on the next play and ran four yards for a Black Widows touchdown. Richmond converted the two-point conversion, and the Black Widows avoided the shutout with eight points in the closing minutes.

The D.C. Divas ran out the clock from there on a 70-8 victory over the Richmond Black Widows. Excluding two offensive possessions cut short by the end of the half, the Divas scored touchdowns all ten times they touched the ball. The victory over Richmond made it a four-game winning streak for the Divas, which they will carry with them on the road this Saturday against the Cleveland Fusion.