Recap vs. Miami Fury – June 27, 2015

D.C. Divas Open 2015 Playoffs by Withstanding Miami’s Fury, 48-12
DC 48, Miami 12
By Neal Rozendaal

Recap • Statistics

Springfield, VA – For the second straight year, the D.C. Divas felt right at home in Northern Virginia.

The Divas used a strong first half to coast past the Miami Fury, 48-12, in the first ever meeting between these historic franchises. Four Divas each chipped in a rushing touchdown, and the special teams also added three scores to help the Divas improve to 13-8 all-time in the postseason.

The Divas played their first ever game in Northern Virginia last year when they defeated the Columbus Comets, 69-8, in Falls Church. On Saturday, the Divas (9-0) immediately showed the fans at Lee High School in Springfield that they could expect a similar performance. D.C. chose to receive the opening kickoff, and Kenyetta Grigsby cashed in with a seven-yard rushing touchdown less than two minutes into the game. The quick score gave the Divas an early 7-0 lead. Grigsby ended the game with 53 yards on six carries and one touchdown.

The Fury (6-3) then went three and out and set up to punt. Eris Woodard broke through to block the kick, and Paris Smith scooped up the ball and raced 22 yards to the end zone for a Divas touchdown. Smith had a terrific game with five tackles, a fumble recovery in the second half, and her scoop and score that put the Divas ahead, 14-0.

The Miami offense then put together their best drive of the evening. Behind some strong running by Ronkia Toombs and Brittani Johnson, the Fury drove down the field for a Johnson eight-yard touchdown run. Miami’s 64-yard drive cut the Divas’ advantage to 14-6.

The Divas spent 72 seconds of game clock getting that score back. After recovering an onside kick, the D.C. offense put together a short drive for the end zone, capped by a two-yard quarterback sneak by Allyson Hamlin. Hamlin’s only run of the night pulled the Divas back ahead, 20-6.

The D.C. defense again forced Miami into a three and out, and the Divas put up one more strong offensive drive in the first period. Okiima Pickett became the third Diva to rush for a touchdown in the first quarter with a 12-yard plunge over the goal line. Pickett ended the game with seven carries for 38 yards and a touchdown. Her scoring run padded the Divas’ lead to 27-6 after one quarter.

The Fury put together one strong defensive stand in the first half. On the Divas’ first offensive drive of the second quarter, Divas quarterback Allyson Hamlin was picked off in the end zone by the Fury defense, Hamlin’s first interception of the season. She completed six passes in ten attempts for 64 yards, spreading her completions out to five different receivers. Hamlin left the game at halftime with the contest well in hand for the Divas.

The Divas’ offense didn’t miss a beat after Hamlin’s interception. On their next possession, the Divas polished off a nine-play drive with one of the best plays of the game. Facing fourth and goal from the two-yard line, the Divas decided to try for the touchdown. Callie Brownson, who was in the game at running back, took a handoff and was smacked right at the goal line by a Miami defender. After bouncing backwards for a yard, Brownson kept her legs moving and used a second effort to power into the end zone. Brownson led the Divas with 110 rushing yards on 16 carries along with her standout touchdown. Brownson’s fourth-down touchdown run gave the Divas a 34-6 lead with five and a half minutes left in the first half.

As it turned out, the Divas’ offense was finished scoring for the night, but D’Ajah Scott picked up the slack. The D.C. defense forced another quick Miami punt, and Scott reeled in the Fury boot at the 31-yard line and sprinted 69 yards for a punt return touchdown. Scott’s second punt return touchdown of the season gave the Divas a 41-6 margin at halftime.

Scott provided the Divas with another boost in the second half. Midway through the third quarter, Scott struck again, this time returning a punt 36 yards to the end zone. Her second punt return touchdown of the game put the Divas ahead, 48-6. It was just the fourth time in Divas history that a player returned two punts for touchdowns in the same game.

That would be the Divas’ total scoring output in the second half. With bad weather looming for the entire game, the skies opened up midway through the third quarter and poured down rain for the rest of the contest. The Divas substituted liberally throughout the second half, and the weather coupled with the inexperience of some of the reserves suppressed the second half totals.

The D.C. defense stood strong for most of the game, allowing just one solid Miami drive until the closing minutes. Christina Smith led the Divas with eight tackles, while Francesca Stabel added seven. Linebacker Trigger McNair, who played six seasons with the Miami Fury from 2000-2005 before joining the Divas in 2006, chipped in six tackles against her old franchise.

The Divas led, 48-6, until the Miami Fury cracked the scoreboard again on a touchdown pass with 32 seconds remaining in the game. The Fury’s second score provided the final points in the Divas’ 48-12 victory.

It was an outstanding start to the 2015 playoffs for the D.C. Divas, and once again, they will enjoy an extended run in the postseason. This is the Divas’ 12th playoff appearance – a women’s football record – and the tenth season in which the Divas have won at least one postseason game, which is also a record. With the win over Miami, the Divas advance to the conference semifinals, where they will host the Atlanta Phoenix on July 11.

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