Recap vs. Baltimore Burn – May 26, 2001

Divas Capture First Road Victory in Baltimore, 20-8
DC 20, Baltimore 8
By Neal Rozendaal

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Baltimore, MD – Two weeks ago, the D.C. Divas claimed their first win in team history. Now they have their first winning streak.

The D.C. Divas won their second straight game, beating the Baltimore Burn on the road, 20-8. After a scoreless first half, the Divas came from behind in the fourth quarter for the second game in a row to earn their first ever road win.

The Divas and Burn were originally supposed to make their debuts against each other on April 21, but poor field conditions caused the game to be cancelled. Still, the close proximity of D.C. and Baltimore has the National Women’s Football League (NWFL) banking that the two women’s football teams in those cities will become healthy rivals in seasons to come.

The Divas (2-2) took the opening kickoff, and a promising drive ended with quarterback Deb Troell throwing an interception. But the Burn (0-4) gave the ball right back when Luann Peterson intercepted a Baltimore pass on their first offensive play of the game.

The defenses continued to shine throughout the first quarter. After both teams exchanged punts, the Divas gained only two yards on their next possession. This time, punter Stacy Palmer fumbled the snap on fourth down and Baltimore took over with great field position.

The Divas’ defense responded, forcing a tackle for loss and three incomplete passes to get a turnover on downs as the first quarter ended scoreless. Two false start penalties for the Divas slowed a nice drive to open the second period, and the Divas were forced to punt the ball back to the Burn.

Baltimore turned the ball over on downs again near midfield, but the Divas went three and out and had to punt the ball to the Burn again. The Burn offense put together a nice drive into D.C. territory, but for the third possession in a row, Baltimore turned the ball over on downs when Peterson batted a fourth-down pass to the ground. The Divas picked up a couple of first downs right before halftime, but time expired on the Divas and the two teams went into halftime locked in a scoreless tie.

The Divas seized the early advantage in the third quarter when Kim Marshall recovered a Burn fumble on the second-half kickoff. Unfortunately for the Divas, the Baltimore Burn seized the momentum right back. A Baltimore defender stripped Divas running back Jane Reynolds of the ball and returned the fumble 50 yards for a Baltimore touchdown. It was the first points in franchise history for the Burn, who had been outscored 105-0 in three losses this season. The Burn converted the two-point attempt, and for the first time in their history, the Baltimore Burn had a lead, 8-0.

The Divas drove into Baltimore territory, but they turned the ball over on downs when Jody Rowell was tackled short of the first down marker on a fourth-down pass from Troell. The Burn took over in D.C. territory, but the Divas’ defense held on four plays to get the ball back on downs.

Reynolds then redeemed herself after her fumble, breaking off the biggest offensive play of the game. Reynolds raced 60 yards down to the Burn two-yard line, and on the next play, she plowed into the end zone to cut Baltimore’s lead to 8-6 as the third quarter ended. Reynolds’ score was the first rushing touchdown in Divas history. The Divas were unable to tie the game on the two-point conversion, however, so they remained behind, 8-6, after three quarters.

The Burn started the fourth quarter with the ball and advanced into Divas’ territory before throwing an incomplete pass on fourth down; it was the fifth straight Baltimore possession that ended in a turnover on downs. The Divas took over, trailing by two, but after rushing for two first downs, the Divas fumbled the ball and the Burn recovered.

Midway through the fourth quarter, the Burn still could not generate any offense. Three incomplete passes caused the Burn to punt to the Divas’ 38-yard line. After a two-yard loss by Reynolds, Angie Head came into the game and picked up 14 yards on three plays to put the ball right at midfield.

Troell, who struggled for most of the game passing the ball in the face of a strong pass rush, then completed the biggest pass of the game. With around six minutes left in the contest, Troell connected with wide receiver Tara Kallal on a 50-yard touchdown pass that put D.C. on top, 12-8. Reynolds was stopped short on the two-point conversion attempt, but the Divas had seized their first lead of the game.

The Burn returned the ensuing kickoff to their own 42-yard line. The Divas’ defense polished off their second straight dominating performance, forcing four straight incomplete passes to give the ball back to the offense. The Divas then ran down the clock, dialing up eight straight rushing plays and moving the chains for first downs.

With under two minutes to play, Jane Reynolds broke through on third and nine for a 20-yard touchdown to seal the victory. Rowell rushed for a two-point conversion, and the Divas would take an insurmountable 20-8 lead. Reynolds ended the game with a franchise-record 182 yards on 24 carries and two touchdowns.

The D.C. defense would ensure that their 12-point lead held up, coming up with one final stop to keep the Baltimore offense off of the scoreboard for the entire game. The Divas came from behind for a victory again, and all five of the touchdowns the Divas have scored this year have come in the second half.

With their record even at .500, the Divas return home for their final three games of the season. Their next two contests will be against the two teams that defeated them earlier this season, beginning when the Divas host the Massachusetts Mutiny on Saturday.

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