Recap vs. Baltimore Burn – April 18, 2004

D.C. Divas Fire the Burn, 26-14
DC 26, Baltimore 14
By Rich Daniel and Katie Echols

Recap • Statistics

Baltimore, MD – Thanks in large part to seven of Baltimore’s finest, the D.C. Divas maintained the upper hand over the Baltimore Burn Saturday, a result that is sure to continue to stoke one of the hottest rivalries in women’s football.

Lilah Blackstone scored two touchdowns – one on a long punt return – and seven ex-Burn players scored their first victory against their old team as the Divas won in Baltimore, 26-14. The Divas, the defending Mid-Atlantic Division champions, earned a measure of revenge against a Baltimore team that last year served up their only regular season loss.

The Divas (2-0) laid the foundation for their win early. After a quick defensive stop, Lilah Blackstone returned a Baltimore punt 50 yards for a touchdown that gave the Divas an early 6-0 advantage. The Divas’ defense then forced another quick stop, and Blackstone followed it up with another great punt return, this one for 40 yards deep into Baltimore territory.

The Burn (0-2) made a stand in the red zone to turn the Divas over on downs on their first offensive possession. But after a short drive, the Burn were forced to punt again. This time, Divas linebacker Ivy Tillman forced a fumble that the Divas recovered at the Burn 20-yard line.

Donna Wilkinson did the rest, racing on the next offensive play to the end zone for a second Divas touchdown and a 12-0 lead late in the first quarter. Wilkinson ended the game with 18 carries for 97 yards and one touchdown, and the Divas led after one period, 12-0.

The Baltimore Burn were not about to fold, however. Baltimore’s Monica Hockaday got the Burn on the scoreboard with a two-yard touchdown run with 11:54 left in the half to close the gap to 12-6. After a three and out by the Divas offense, the Burn then consumed most of the second quarter on a long 18-play drive. But the Baltimore charge ultimately ended when Alison Fischer picked off a Burn pass with under a minute remaining before halftime, and the Divas led at intermission, 12-6.

The Divas took the ball to start the second half and turned the tables on the Burn, chewing up the clock on a 13-play, nine-minute drive down the field. The Divas earned a first down at the Burn 15-yard line, but consecutive Baltimore blitzes resulted in tackles for loss and brought up third and 15. Kallal took the ball and nearly made it to the end zone, but her run was negated by a holding penalty.

An incomplete pass on third and 25 brought up fourth down, and the Divas decided to go for it. Their gamble paid off when quarterback Allyson Hamlin found TaQuina Billups for a 30-yard touchdown pass with six minutes left in the third quarter. Wilkinson powered through the Burn defense for the two-point conversion, which brought the score to 20-6.

Baltimore tried to gain momentum back with a long drive that took up the rest of the third quarter. But early in the final period, Burn quarterback Janet Shettle – taking over the reins from Tara Watanathai, one of seven ex-Burn players who left Baltimore this offseason to join the Divas – threw her second interception of the game. This time she was picked off by Raynette Savoy, another of the seven girls from Baltimore who have bolstered the Divas this season. Savoy played a marvelous game against her old team, leading the Divas defense with six tackles, including one tackle for loss and an interception.

Savoy wasn’t the only ex-Burn player who made an impact against her old team. Tyran Dukes and Mozette Timmons each added 2.5 tackles apiece in their first game against the Burn, and former Baltimore fullback Julie Ciccarelli made her presence felt on the Divas’ next offensive drive. Facing fourth and one near midfield after Savoy’s interception, the Divas decided to go for it. Ciccarelli charged through the line and with a helping push from fullback Claudia Hogan, Ciccarelli came up with a critical first down to allow the Divas to maintain possession.

Although the Divas would later turn the ball over on a fumble, they recovered possession on the very next play with a fumble recovery of their own by Lisa Gonzalez. It was the fourth turnover recovered by the Divas defense, and it paid off a few minutes later when Blackstone scored her second touchdown of the game on a five-yard reverse. Blackstone’s rushing score gave the Divas a 26-6 lead with five minutes remaining in the game and put the contest out of reach.

The Burn scored with under a minute left in the game on a passing touchdown from Janet Shettle to rookie wide receiver Kenyetta Grigsby, and Regina Nolan caught Shettle’s two-point conversion toss to cut the Divas’ lead to 26-14. But the Divas recovered the ensuing onside kick and took a knee to clinch a comfortable 26-14 victory over their bitter rivals.

The Divas evened the all-time series against the Burn with their fourth victory in eight meetings. As for the seven ex-Burn players who notched their first win over their old team, Savoy summed up the victory by saying, “I’m glad it’s over. It feels good to leave with the win.”

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