Recap vs. Pittsburgh Passion – May 31, 2003

D.C. Divas Complete a Passionate Comeback in 30-25 Triumph
DC 30, Pittsburgh 25
By Leah Fahringer and Rich Daniel

Pittsburgh, PA – When the Pittsburgh Passion scored with less than four minutes left in the game and the D.C. Divas were trailing, 25-22, it looked like the Divas might rack up their first loss of the season.

But the Divas have what it takes to make the plays, even with the extra pressure of coming from behind with so little time left. The Divas scored a touchdown with just 23 seconds remaining on the clock, and that was the difference in keeping their undefeated record alive with a dramatic 30-25 victory.

The game in Pittsburgh was a tough one for the Divas (6-0). After five games where they were behind only once, this game was a back-and-forth affair, with the Passion taking the lead on four occasions.

The Divas first saw the end zone when Tara Kallal scored less than five minutes into the game, but a flag on that play got the touchdown called back. The Divas ended up being forced to punt on fourth down. The Passion (2-5) then drove down the field for the first score of the game, as a field goal gave Pittsburgh the early lead with a score of 3-0.

Early in the second quarter, the Divas powered the ball down the field on runs by Wilkinson and Foust, with Wilkinson running the ball into the end zone. After Wilkinson completed the two-point conversion, the Divas led, 8-3.

The rest of the half was a defensive stalemate. A pass by Hamlin was intercepted with less than two minutes left in the half, but the Divas regained possession by recovering a Passion fumble a few plays later. Time ran out in the first half with the Divas clinging to an 8-3 lead.

Offensive fireworks took over in the second half. Pittsburgh received the second half kickoff and scored their first touchdown of the game at the 11:51 mark in the third quarter. With a successful extra point kick, the Passion led for the second time of the evening by a score of 10-8.

Later in the third quarter, Foust made a critical run on a third down and 14 play to get the first down. Foust would score later in that drive with a four-yard carry. After a successful two-point conversion by Wilkinson, the D.C. Divas would be in familiar territory once again, leading 16-10.

The Passion started the fourth quarter much like they did the third, tying the score on a 15-yard touchdown throw. Pittsburgh then faked the extra point kick and scored on a two-point conversion, retaking the lead at 18-16.

Wilkinson was able to breach the end zone on a touchdown run with 6:30 remaining in the game to give the Divas the advantage again at 22-18. But the Passion did not give up, and they scored again less than three minutes later to put themselves back on top, 25-22.

With an undefeated record hanging in the balance, DC quickly got the plays off on their next possession. LaShawn Foust and Donna Wilkinson marched the ball up the field. The Divas’ win seemed certain when quarterback Allyson Hamlin ran in a touchdown with 46 seconds left in the game, but a penalty for aiding the runner brought the touchdown back to the five-yard line.

However, the Divas would not be stopped. Wilkinson scored with 23 seconds left on a four-yard touchdown run and completed the two-point conversion to make the score 30-25. The seesaw game had ultimately tipped back in favor of the D.C. Divas, as they had left too little time for the Passion to mount a final scoring drive of their own. The undefeated Divas showed their toughness and proved their ability to focus and come out on top, even when trailing late in the game.

The D.C. Divas were able to triumph over Pittsburgh in large part due to their strong running game. They rushed for 340 yards on the day, including the last four that sealed the victory for the Divas. Wilkinson carried 33 times for 150 yards and three touchdowns with three two-point conversions, bolstering her status as the NWFA’s leading rusher with 843 yards in six games this season. Her running mate, LaShawn Foust, had another strong game with 20 carries for 101 yards and one touchdown of her own.

The offensive line of Michelle Riddle, Gayle Dilla, Nancy Buermeyer, Renee Roach, Patrice Bowman, Jayme Morrison, Carrie Pecover, and Alison Marshal were collectively voted the offensive MVP honors for the second time in 2003. “Our line has to be the best in the league,” Wilkinson said. “They are big, agile, and have excellent football minds. They’re very tough. As running backs, we give them all the credit in the world. Coach Tench has done a great job.”

Meanwhile, the defense has been tested on the road in their last two outings. Prior to the game, the defense’s leading tackler, linebacker Tessa Nelson, went down with a sprained knee. Her replacement, Sharina Western, recorded six tackles (including eight assisted tackles) and was named the defensive MVP. “I was very excited but didn’t want to get my chance that way. We all saw Tessa go down, and you could feel the worry. I made a lot of mistakes, but my team supported me very strongly. For never having played inside linebacker, I think I did okay in the end.”

The D.C. Divas are at home at Eastern High School to play the Columbus Flames on June 7 at 7 PM.

← Previous Game Next Game →