Recap vs. Pittsburgh Passion – May 3, 2003

D.C. Divas Play With Passion In 32-7 Victory
DC 32, Pittsburgh 7
By Leah Fahringer

Washington, DC – In the D.C. Divas’ second home game of the season, they met the Pittsburgh Passion, who are in their first year of play. The Passion battled the Divas close for nearly three quarters, but D.C.’s experience came through in the fourth, as they blew out Pittsburgh in the final quarter on their way to a 32-7 victory.

Early in the first quarter, the Divas (1-3) moved the ball well on the ground but were unable to reach the end zone. The Divas faced a fourth-and-goal situation late in the first quarter, and the Divas decided to go for it. But the Passion defense held firm, and the Divas turned the ball over on the one-yard line.

Divas linebacker Tessa Nelson got momentum right back for the home team, sacking Pittsburgh quarterback Lisa Horton in the end zone for a two-point safety. For the second straight week, Nelson was awarded the game’s defensive MVP. Both defenses dominated the second quarter of play, and although the Divas moved the ball both on the ground and through the air, they were unable to score. Nelson’s safety provided the only first half points as the Divas took a meager 2-0 lead to the halftime locker room.

The third quarter saw the D.C. Divas’ first touchdown of the game. Tara Kallal took the ball on an end around and ran 35 yards to the end zone. A successful two-point conversion by Donna Wilkinson made the score 10-0.

But just as it looked like the Divas were ready to put Pittsburgh away, the Passion (1-3) countered with a touchdown of their own. The Divas fumbled a punt near the Pittsburgh goal line, and two players later, Horton ran for two yards into the end zone to cut the D.C. lead to 10-7.

That score woke the Divas’ offense, and they immediately responded. Donna Wilkinson raced to the end zone for a four-yard touchdown with 3:29 left in the third quarter, and Wilkinson also successfully handled the two-point conversion. The D.C. Divas started the fourth quarter with an advantage of 18-7.

The Divas’ built on their third-quarter success in the final period. With the 11:25 remaining in the game, Allyson Hamlin threw an eight-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Nikki Williams. Vickie Lucas added the two-point conversion to bring the score up to 26-7.

An interception by Divas defensive back Angela Head with 11:02 left in the game ended any Pittsburgh hopes of a possible comeback. The Divas relied on the heavy hitting of linemen Michelle Riddle and Tessa Nelson to grind out the clock. With less than three minutes left in the game, Kallal made the final touchdown of the evening when she grabbed a 25-yard pass from Hamlin. The final score was 32-7.

The offensive numbers back up the Divas’ dominance of the game. The Divas’ high-octane offense went over the one-thousand-yard mark for the season with 390 total yards, while the defense held the Passion to 108 total yards. D.C. compiled 83 passing yards and 307 rushing yards, compared to the Passion’s 36 passing yards and 72 rushing yards.

The offensive MVP of the game was Allyson Hamlin. Hamlin was seven of 18 for 83 yards and two touchdowns, leading an offense that scored 30 points in the second half after going scoreless in the first. “Allyson Hamlin has the potential to be really good. I’m very pleased with her play,” said Coach Cooper.

Running back Donna Wilkinson rushed for 112 yards and one touchdown on 25 carries. Wilkinson leads the league in rushing with 483 yards in just three games. “I want to thank my line…they are doing a great job,” said Wilkinson. Wide receiver Tara Kallal added 85 yards of offense, including a 25-yard touchdown pass reception and a 35-yard reverse for a score.

Despite the win, Coach Cooper warned against the Divas letting their guard down. “I expected a letdown after the win over Baltimore, just not as much of one as we had in the first half,” Coach Cooper said. “We feel like we are sitting in the driver seat of our division, but we can’t afford to overlook anyone.”

Following next week’s road game at Columbus and a bye the following week, the D.C. Divas are next at home against the Erie Illusion on May 24 at 7 PM.

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