Recap vs. Columbus Comets – June 8, 2013

Perfect 10: Divas Clinch Division Title With 42-20 Victory
DC 42, Columbus 20
By Neal Rozendaal

Recap • Statistics

Landover, MD – In a season filled with ups and downs, this game was one to remember.

Using perhaps their most balanced offensive attack this season, the D.C. Divas defeated the Columbus Comets, 42-20, to secure their fifth consecutive division championship. The division title is the Divas’ tenth overall in franchise history, tying them with the Sacramento Sirens for the most division championships in the history of women’s football.

As they have in several games this season, the Divas (5-3) got off to a slow start against Columbus. On the Comets’ first offensive possession, running back Shelly Gates carried the ball four consecutive times, going over the goal line on her final carry from two yards away. Columbus quarterback Crystal Davis then completed a pass for the two-point conversion, putting the Comets ahead, 8-0.

D’Ajah Scott helped turn things around by returning the ensuing kickoff to the Comets’ 44-yard line. The Divas then called on their top two running backs – Kenyetta Grigsby and Donna Wilkinson. Five straight runs by Grigsby and Wilkinson got the Divas on the scoreboard, with Wilkinson doing the honors by running into the end zone from two yards out. Wilkinson ended the game with 82 total yards and one touchdown, which cut the Comets’ lead to one point, 8-7.

The Comets (5-4) consumed over eight minutes of clock on their next possession, running out most of the first quarter. Although they failed to score, they pinned the Divas deep in their own territory with a punt, which led to a three and out for DC. The Comets got the ball back with great field position at the Divas’ 32-yard line.

But the Divas defense made a critical stop on Columbus’ next drive, capped by Cherre Marshall’s eight-yard sack of Crystal Davis on fourth down. Three plays later, Grigsby broke through the Comets’ resistance and raced 36 yards for a DC touchdown, giving the Divas their first lead of the game at 14-8.

Columbus put together another nice drive, advancing all the way to the Divas’ 27-yard line. But Callie Brownson swatted down a pass from Davis on fourth and eight, and the Divas regained possession. With time running out in the first half, Grigsby and Wilkinson got the call again, and both responded with huge rushing gains. Grigsby polished off the drive by plunging over the goal line from three yards out; Grigsby finished the game with 127 yards on 12 carries and two touchdowns. Her second touchdown gave the Divas a 21-8 advantage, which was the score they carried into halftime.

The Divas took to the air in the third quarter. Quarterback Allyson Hamlin hit Kasee Hilliard for a twenty-yard touchdown strike on DC’s first possession of the second half; Hilliard caught the ball at the ten-yard line, juked a Columbus defender, and raced for the end zone to stake the Divas to a 28-8 lead.

The Comets countered with their second touchdown of the game to make the score 28-14, but the Divas got those points right back. Hamlin threw her second touchdown of the contest to Juliette Baker-Brice for an 11-yard score; Hamlin finished the game with nine completions on 17 attempts for 125 yards and two touchdowns. Hamlin’s second touchdown pass of the game pushed the lead back out to 35-14 as the third quarter expired.

The Divas scored one more rushing touchdown midway through the fourth quarter to increase the lead to 42-14. Davis threw her second touchdown pass with 29 seconds remaining to make the final score 42-20.

The Divas offense spread the ball around. Ayrica Walker, Elise Pittman, and Stacy Bruce joined Grigsby and Wilkinson with rushing attempts. With the Divas playing their second straight game without Ashley Whisonant, Hamlin spread the ball around to several receivers, including Baker-Brice, Hilliard, Lakia Barber, and Melissa Mitchell.

Defensively, the Divas were led by Cherre Marshall, who logged 8.5 tackles and two sacks. Melissa Washington recorded 7.5 tackles and two sacks, while D’Ajah Scott also collected six tackles. Alice Cates, Trigger McNair, and Eleni Kotsis all added four tackles apiece.

With the victory over the Comets, the Divas clinched their tenth division title in franchise history, tying the record now shared by the Sacramento Sirens. The D.C. Divas also earned a first round bye in the WFA playoffs, which start next week. The Divas will have next week off before hosting a conference quarterfinal playoff game in Landover on June 22.

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