Recap vs. Baltimore Burn – April 19, 2003

D.C. Divas Extinguish the Burn, 24-0
DC 24, Baltimore 0
By Leah Fahringer and Rich Daniel

Washington, DC – The D.C. Divas took the field April 19 for their first home game of the year against their archrivals, the Baltimore Burn. Both teams expected a tough match-up much like last year’s four meetings, because the Baltimore Burn were the only team to beat the Divas in 2002. However, when the final buzzer sounded after four rough quarters of football, the Divas had not just beaten the Burn, but they convincingly downed the 2002 division champs for a 24-0 win.

The Divas (2-0) gained control early, on a touchdown carry by Donna Wilkinson. Wilkinson carried the ball 36 times for an impressive 202 total rushing yards. With a successful two-point conversion, DC got on the board, 8-0, in the first quarter.

The Burn (2-1) were unable to get anything going against the Divas’ defense, and on the Divas’ next drive, gains were made by Wilkinson and wide receiver Tara Kallal. The Divas drove down the field and threatened to score a second touchdown, but the Burn defense made the plays they needed to regain possession.

On the Divas’ next drive, they finally added to their lead. With 1:51 left in the first half, quarterback Allyson Hamlin threw a touchdown pass to Nikki Williams. With the two-point conversion made, the D.C. Divas went to the half with a lead of 16-0.

The teams played a scoreless third quarter, as DC maintained a 16-point lead. The fourth quarter opened with defensive fireworks, including back-to-back interceptions just 8 seconds apart. Baltimore picked off a Divas pass with 14:53 left in the game. But DC safety Jennifer Long grabbed a Burn pass on the very next play to give the ball right back to the Divas.

The Divas converted this regained possession into a scoring opportunity when Wilkinson carried the ball over the goal line for her second touchdown of the evening. With another successful two-point conversion, the D.C. Divas were sitting pretty at 24-0 with 11:30 remaining on the clock.

The Burn put together their best drive of the contest, reaching within a few yards of the goal line. But the Divas’ defense held them back, and Baltimore was unable to score. When the clock finally ran down, the DC domination was complete with a strong running game and with a defense that completely shut down the Burn’s offense all day.

The Divas’ offensive line once again led the way for a rushing attack that went over the 300-yard mark for the second week in a row. The Divas’ ground game has amassed just over 600 yards rushing in the team’s two victories. Head coach Ezra Cooper summed it up by saying, “We ran through, around, and over them. I was very pleased with our power running game.”

Donna Wilkinson ran for two touchdowns and 202 yards on a team-record 36 carries. “I run hard, we don’t give up, and we don’t stop. My offensive line did one hell of a job,” said Wilkinson. Coach Cooper added, “Donna Wilkinson has got to be the best back in the league. She’s unstoppable; I don’t know who’s going to stop her. She’s the heart and soul of the team.”

Donna Wilkinson was voted offensive MVP honors for the second straight week, while Tessa Nelson claimed defensive MVP honors. The 2-0 Divas have a bye week before facing the Pittsburgh Passion on May 3 at 7 PM at Eastern High School. Pittsburgh is a first-year team, but they were very competitive with the Baltimore Burn in a 7-0 loss in the Passion’s first home game early this season.

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