Recap vs. Atlanta Xplosion – June 12, 2010

Divas Get Revenge on Xplosion with 35-7 Victory
DC 35, Atlanta 7
By Neal Rozendaal

Landover, MD – When the D.C. Divas were tabbed to host an Eastern Conference semifinal game against the Atlanta Xplosion despite the fact that Atlanta had a superior overall record, some critics questioned the decision.

After sixty minutes of playoff football Saturday, the Divas left no doubt that it was the right move.

The Divas advanced to their fifth conference championship game in team history with a 35-7 victory over Atlanta. The Divas (6-3) got a measure of revenge for a 28-18 loss to the Xplosion in the 2007 playoffs. That loss snapped the Divas’ franchise-record 19-game winning streak and dashed the Divas’ hopes of repeating as the national champions of women’s football following their national title victory in 2006.

The Xplosion (7-2) finished the 2010 regular season with a 7-1 record, two games better than the Divas’ 5-3 mark. But thanks to a superior strength of schedule that included two competitive losses to the Boston Militia, the Divas were awarded the division championship and the right to host the Eastern Conference semifinal matchup. Understandably, many Atlanta supporters felt the decision was unjust.

The Divas established their dominance early in the game and left no question as to their superiority on the field. On the Divas’ second possession, D.C. gained 74 yards on the ground and eventually scored on a two-yard touchdown run. The Divas then put together a second drive near the end of the first quarter, and when the second quarter opened, the Divas had the ball on Atlanta’s six-yard line and a 7-0 lead.

Kenyetta Grigsby carried the ball the final six yards on the first play of the second quarter for a touchdown, and the Divas took command of the game, 14-0. The D.C. defense would get in on the act as well, using a pick-six later in the second quarter to extend the Divas’ lead to 21-0. The Divas held a 21-point advantage at intermission despite four first-half turnovers that kept the score from being greater.

The Divas defense kept Atlanta from crossing midfield in the first half, and another interception by the Divas defense in the third quarter set the offense up with great field position once again. Okiima Pickett took advantage, rushing for a four-yard score to put D.C. on top after three quarters, 28-0.

A fumbled punt return set up the only score of the night for the Atlanta Xplosion, a touchdown run that closed the gap to 28-7. But the Divas defense would shut down the Atlanta offense for the rest of the game, sealing the victory. Backup quarterback Callie Brownson tossed a 25-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to make the final score 35-7.

The Divas now have nearly a month off while the IWFL goes on hiatus to accommodate players traveling to Europe for the IFAF Women’s World Championships. The D.C. Divas will travel to Boston in four weeks, where they will play their rivals, the Boston Militia, for the Eastern Conference championship for the second straight year.

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