Recap vs. Pittsburgh Passion – June 30, 2012

D.C. Divas Advance to Eastern Conference Semifinals with 45-30 Win
DC 45, Pittsburgh 30
By Rich Daniel

Recap • Statistics

Landover, MD – The D.C. Divas and the Pittsburgh Passion always display exciting football when they meet head to head. Anyone who witnessed the Divas’ thrilling 45-30 win Saturday night can testify to that.

The game started an hour later than usual after field temperatures were reported in the 115-degree range earlier in the day. The Divas (6-3) began by winning the opening coin toss presented by Congresswoman Donna Edwards and former Redskins running back George Nock, but the Divas deferred to the second half.

After stopping Pittsburgh on their opening possession, the Divas put together a seven-play, 67-yard masterpiece that ended with a one-yard touchdown by Kenyetta Grigsby to make it 7-0. The Passion (8-2) opened the second quarter with a drive that was halted by a Callie Brownson interception, but Pittsburgh soon pushed back on their next possession with a touchdown to tie the score at seven.

The Divas answered the Pittsburgh touchdown with an incredible 31-point barrage. Stephanie Walker had an amazing touchdown run that officially went 28 yards but totaled over 40 yards considering the moves she had to make to elude the initial Passion defender. Her spectacular effort made it 13-7 Divas.

The Divas defense held again and with three minutes to go in the first half, the Divas faked a punt on fourth and two. The Divas converted a first down, and a few plays later, Allyson Hamlin tossed a 44-yard touchdown pass for a 19-7 lead. The Passion responded with a ten-play drive and were in scoring position when their drive was stopped on fourth down by T.K. Washington to preserve the Divas’ 19-7 lead at halftime.

The second play of the second half saw the league’s leading receiver, Ashley Whisonant, break free and go 50 yards to put the Divas up 26-7. The Divas defense stepped up again when D’Ajah Scott got the defense’s second interception of the night. The Divas’ offense thanked the defense with a two-yard touchdown run from Grigsby, her second of the game. Much like the whirlwind of storms the area had seen the night before, the Divas’ offensive flourish produced a 32-7 margin.

Allyson Hamlin was 14 of 19 for 265 yards and three touchdowns in the contest. She threw a 42-yard touchdown pass to a leaping Whisonant that concluded a 31-point onslaught for the Divas, a scoring streak that turned a 7-7 tie contest into a 38-7 advantage.

Pittsburgh finished the third quarter with a touchdown to make it 38-15 and their comeback had begun. The Divas defense appeared to end the comeback when Callie Brownson made one of her five and a half tackles on fourth down, which ended a nine-play Pittsburgh drive at the start of the fourth quarter.

The Divas provided excitement to the playoff crowd of 1,705 fans when they executed a fake punt on their next drive, which appeared to result in a first down. But the Divas were flagged for a penalty, which forced them to punt the football. The Passion struck quickly with another touchdown, and with 5:52 remaining in the game, the Divas’ lead was closed to 38-23.

Still, the Divas appeared to be in control of the game. But the Passion then went for an onside kick and recovered it, giving them another possession. On fourth and two, Pittsburgh quarterback Amanda Haeg fired a seven-yard touchdown pass to pull the Passion within 38-30 with 4:47 yet to go.

Trailing by just one touchdown, Pittsburgh attempted another onside kick to get in position for a game-tying score. The Passion’s onside kick was again nearly recovered by Pittsburgh, but Cherre Marshall came away with it from the bottom of the pile for the Divas.

The Divas’ offense didn’t convert on three downs, and Pittsburgh had the ball back one more time with 2:44 to play. Eleni Kotsis made a huge defensive play, picking off a pass at the 44-yard line and racing 12 yards to give the D.C. offense a chance to ice the game. Ashley Whisonant’s 21-yard reception on third and nine kept the drive alive, and Kenyetta Grigsby iced the game with her third touchdown of the night. Her 23-yard run made the score 45-30 with a minute and a half left in the game. Grigsby ended the game with 91 yards rushing on 19 carries as well as ten yards receiving.

The Divas (6-3) now travel to take on the Boston Militia on July 7 in Boston. The Militia, the defending WFA national champions, beat the New York Sharks to advance in the playoffs, and the Divas will meet the Militia for the third time this season. Boston won both meetings this year, but the Divas are the only team to beat the two-time defending national champions in the last three years. The winner of the game on July 7 will advance to the WFA National Conference championship game on July 21.

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