Recap vs. Detroit Demolition – July 17, 2004

Champion Detroit Advances to National Title Game By Clipping Divas, 20-14
Detroit 20, DC 14
By Neal Rozendaal

Recap • Statistics

Washington, DC – Knocking on the doorstep of the national title game, the Divas’ magical run narrowly came to an end at the hands of the two-time defending champs. The Detroit Demolition took advantage of two costly Divas turnovers and held on for a 20-14 victory in the Northern Conference championship game.

The Demolition (10-0) advanced to their third consecutive national championship game. The Divas (9-1) fell to Detroit after giving them the closest scare of their three-year, thirty-game winning streak.

The Divas committed two turnovers in the first half, which gave Detroit great field position. The Demolition cashed in with two touchdowns and seized a 14-0 halftime advantage. “The turnovers killed us,” Divas head coach Ezra Cooper confessed. “When you’re playing Detroit, you can’t do that. I think two of those turnovers were points for them, and that’s the ball game.”

Still, the Divas tried to overcome their slow start and mount a comeback in the second half. Donna Wilkinson ran through the Detroit defense for a 24-yard score early in the third quarter and added the two-point conversion to cut the Divas’ deficit to 14-8.

The Demolition padded their lead in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter by rushing for a three-yard touchdown. Although the conversion attempt failed, Detroit extended their advantage to 20-8.

Wilkinson came through for the Divas again, rushing for a three-yard touchdown midway through the fourth quarter to cut the margin back down to six points, 20-14. Wilkinson ended the game with 127 yards and two rushing touchdowns.

But with four minutes left in the game, Detroit put together their most impressive drive of the contest. It didn’t yield any points, but the Demolition strung together enough first downs to bleed the clock and come away with the 20-14 victory.

By winning the Northern Conference title, the Detroit Demolition will play in the NWFA national championship game for the third straight year. But Detroit head coach Tony Blankenship had praise for the Divas squad. “We knew they were awfully good. There was never any question about that,” Blankenship said. “We knew it was going to be difficult to come in here and beat them. But we persevered, worked awfully hard, and did things the right way when it was necessary at the right times. I take nothing away from them. They’re a really, really good football team.”

“We accomplished so much this season,” Coach Cooper said. “With all the ups and downs and the things we went through at the beginning of the season, this team overachieved all year.”

The Divas have improved each of their four seasons in existence, and their fourth season ended six points shy of the Divas’ first national championship game appearance. The Divas’ next step would be the biggest one yet, but for now, it’s a step that will have to wait another year.

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