Recap vs. Atlanta Phoenix – July 11, 2015

D.C. Divas Advance to Sixth Conference Title Game with 40-6 Victory
DC 40, Atlanta 6
By Neal Rozendaal

Recap • Statistics

Clifton, VA – The 2015 D.C. Divas now have two playoff victories under their belts.

Two more would make it a season for the ages.

The Divas advanced to the National Conference championship game after downing the Atlanta Phoenix in the conference semifinals, 40-6. D.C. sprinted out to a 34-0 halftime advantage to easily defeat the Phoenix. With the win, the Divas will host the Chicago Force on July 25 for the conference title and the right to go to the WFA national championship game in Los Angeles, California.

The Divas (10-0) got off to an inauspicious start against Atlanta. They elected to receive the opening kickoff, but they were unable to corral the kick and the Phoenix fell on the loose ball to start deep in D.C. territory. But the Phoenix (6-4) were unable to generate much offense and turned the ball over on downs at the D.C. 30-yard line.

The D.C. offense took the field for the first time, and it didn’t take long for the Divas to seize the lead. On their second offensive play, quarterback Allyson Hamlin found Ashley Whisonant on a 66-yard touchdown pass for a 6-0 advantage.

The Divas added to that score late in the first quarter. After taking over near midfield following an Atlanta turnover on downs, the Divas assembled a 51-yard drive, capped by a one-yard quarterback sneak by Hamlin for the touchdown. The Divas led after one quarter, 13-0.

Two quick touchdowns early in the second period put the contest away for the Divas. Hamlin found Whisonant for their second touchdown connection of the game on a 20-yard scoring throw with 10:19 remaining in the first half. Whisonant’s second touchdown catch of the game gave the Divas a 20-0 margin. Ashley Whisonant ended the night with six catches for 160 yards and two touchdowns.

Three plays later, the Atlanta Phoenix had the ball near midfield. Linebacker Alicia Hopkins intercepted a pass and returned it 50 yards for the Divas’ second touchdown in a little over a minute. With 9:17 left in the first half, the Divas had built a 27-0 lead.

But the Divas weren’t finished. Following an Atlanta punt, the Divas scored their fourth touchdown in their first five possessions when Hamlin tossed a 77-yard bomb to Kentrina Wilson. Wilson ended the game with four receptions for 100 yards, most of them coming on her lone score of the contest. Hamlin, meanwhile, finished the game with 11 completions on 16 passes for 256 yards and three touchdowns. Wilson’s touchdown put the Divas on top at halftime, 34-0.

The Atlanta Phoenix scored their only touchdown of the contest midway through the third quarter on a 38-yard pass from quarterback Tammy Nelson to wide receiver Ramiah Smith. Nelson’s touchdown strike cut the Divas’ lead to 34-6; it was the first touchdown scored by the Phoenix in three all-time meetings against the Divas, having suffered shutout losses in the first two encounters.

The Divas then took the ball and began to methodically drive down the field, finishing off the drive with their only score of the second half. Callie Brownson, in the game at quarterback in relief of Hamlin, rushed for a one-yard touchdown to push the lead back out to 40-6 after three quarters.

The fourth quarter was a stalemate on the scoreboard. The Divas emptied their bench, and the Phoenix were unable to generate much offense even against the Divas’ reserves. The Divas were led on defense by 17-year veteran linebacker Trigger McNair, who registered ten tackles. Cherre Marshall added seven tackles and Helen Deer recorded six. Whitney Simms also recovered a fumble for the Divas in the second half. With another game coming up in two weeks, the Divas were content to ride out a 40-6 victory and have outscored the Phoenix in three all-time meetings by a combined 138-6 score.

The Divas have now reached double-digit victories for the third time in team history. More importantly, for the first time since joining the Women’s Football Alliance in 2011, the D.C. Divas will finally make an appearance in the conference championship game. The Divas will face the Chicago Force, the 2013 national champions, on July 25 for the right to go to the 2015 national championship game.

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