Recap vs. Pittsburgh Passion – April 14, 2012

Pittsburgh Passes the Divas in a Thriller, 35-34
Pittsburgh 35, DC 34
By Rich Daniel

Recap • Statistics

Landover, MD – The D.C. Divas’ season opener, and the inaugural game with a brand-new Astroturf surface at the Prince George’s Sports Complex, was one of the most exciting games in the history of the great rivalry between the Divas and the visiting Pittsburgh Passion. The Passion pulled out a narrow 35-34 victory to spoil the coaching debut of D.C. head coach Alison Fischer.

The Divas and Passion have been competing against each other since 2003 and feature two of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game. Pittsburgh quarterback Lisa Horton led her team on an eight-play, 53-yard drive to open the game and give the Passion a 7-0 lead.

The Divas (0-1) responded with scoring drives on three of their next four possessions. The first pass of the game for the Divas was a 16-yard touchdown from Allyson Hamlin, which capped a six-play, 69-yard drive. On the next drive, Hamlin found Stephanie Walker with a 25-yard strike over the middle to give the Divas a 14-7 advantage at the end of the first quarter.

Hamlin, a ten-year Divas veteran and Prince George’s County homicide detective, then found Ashley Whisonant for a 21-yard touchdown reception to make it the score 21-7 in favor of the Divas. Hamlin opened the game a perfect seven-for-seven with three touchdown passes.

Horton rallied the Passion (1-0) with touchdown passes on their next three possessions to give Pittsburgh a 28-21 lead with just nine seconds remaining in the first half. But the Divas returned the ensuing kickoff 78 yards for a touchdown and thrilled the over 2,000 fans in attendance as D.C. pulled even at the half, 28-28.

The start of the third quarter helped illustrate the outstanding effort set forth by the Divas’ offensive line and Kenyetta Grigsby, who rushed for 224 yards on 26 carries. Her 48-yard touchdown run gave the Divas the lead, but the extra point was blocked and the Divas led, 34-28.

That blocked extra point would loom large, because Horton gave Pittsburgh the lead back by throwing a 65-yard touchdown strike with just 5:48 to play. The Passion took a one-point lead, 35-34.

The Divas were not done. Grigsby rushed for 58 yards as part of an eight-play drive to try and reclaim the lead. But the drive ended with an interception in the end zone to shatter the Divas’ hopes and hand Pittsburgh a 35-34 come-from-behind victory.

“I’m proud of the way our team competed, and we certainly have room to get better. We will go back to work and continue to improve,” said Coach Alison Fischer. The Divas will host the second home game of the season on April 28, when the New York Sharks come to town.

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