Recap vs. Columbus Flames – May 10, 2003

D.C. Divas Douse the Flames, 30-22
DC 30, Columbus 22
By Leah Fahringer and Rich Daniel

Columbus, OH – The D.C. Divas traveled to Columbus on May 10 to face the Columbus Flames. The Divas improved their record to 4-0 with a 30-22 come-from-behind victory in Columbus.

The Flames (3-2) scored seven minutes into the game, taking a 7-0 advantage as the Divas faced a deficit for the first time this season. But the division-leading Divas quickly roared to life. Donna Wilkinson scored twice on touchdown runs and converted both of the two-point conversions to make the score 16-7 after one period.

In the second quarter, the Divas (4-0) scored again, this time with their passing game. Allyson Hamlin threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Nikki Williams. After the third successful two-point conversion by Wilkinson – who continued to play despite breaking her pinky finger during the first quarter – the Divas had a comfortable lead at 24-7.

Columbus rallied just before halftime. The Flames took advantage of good field position when a Hamlin pass was intercepted. With less than a minute to play in the half, the Flames scored a touchdown to make the score 24-15 as the teams headed for the locker room.

The Divas maintained their nine-point lead for most of the second half. Hamlin threw a game-clinching, 13-yard touchdown pass with 4:54 left in the game to Nikki Williams. Williams’ second touchdown catch of the game made the score 30-15. The Flames scored again with 1:55 on the clock to close to within 30-22, but they would get no closer. The Divas held on for the eight-point victory, their closest of the season.

The MVP awards of the game for the Divas were given to the offensive and defensive lines. The offensive line made it possible for the Divas to score big, while the defensive line kept the Flames at bay.

The Divas overcame adversity in the form of 17 penalties. The NWFA’s leading rusher, Donna Wilkinson, racked up two touchdowns and 126 yards on 19 carries. Wilkinson has totaled 609 yards in the four victories. “My offensive line of Renee Roach, Gayle Dilla, Carrie Pecover, Patrice Bowman, and Michelle Riddle deserved the game ball tonight. They are the best offensive line in our division and perhaps the league. They made the difference in the tough yards tonight,” said Wilkinson, who played with a broken finger suffered in the first quarter. The Divas pounded the Flames with 54 carries for a total of 275 yards on the ground. Wide receiver Nikki Williams added two touchdown catches to the offensive attack.

Defensively, the Divas faced their toughest test of the season. Once again, Tessa Nelson and company were able to stop the opponents when it mattered the most. “We are the D.C. Divas and when it mattered the most, we played Divas ball. As a team we overcame being called for 15 more penalties than the home team and responded well to being behind for the first time. Our coaching staff is extremely proud of these ladies,” said defensive backs coach Jamie Dilla.

The D.C. Divas, who have a record of 4-0 following this win, have a bye week on May 17. They return home to face the Erie Illusion, a team they beat soundly, 50-0, the first week of the season. That game will be at Eastern High School on May 24 at 7 PM.

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