Recap vs. Richmond Black Widows – April 23, 2016

Balanced Attack Powers Divas Past Black Widows, 48-6
DC 48, Richmond 6
By Neal Rozendaal

Recap • StatisticsBox Score

Richmond, VA – The most difficult kind of football team to stop is the one where the next big play could be made by literally anyone on the roster. If their game against the Richmond Black Widows is any indication, the D.C. Divas are well on their way to developing into just that sort of team. Seven different Divas scored touchdowns in the first half, guiding the visitors to a 48-6 victory in Richmond.

The Divas (2-1) established the tone of the game from the first play. After receiving the opening kickoff, the Divas’ first offensive play went for a touchdown. Running back Kenyetta Grigsby raced 53 yards to the end zone, and a successful extra point kick by Stephanie Nealis gave the Divas a 7-0 advantage 22 seconds into the game. Grigsby’s day was over after just one play, ending the contest with one carry for 53 yards and a touchdown.

The Black Widows (2-2) then took the field on offense for the first time, but the D.C. defense forced a three and out. On the ensuing punt attempt, the snap flew over the head of the Black Widows punter. Safi Mojidi recovered the ball in the end zone for a special teams touchdown to put the Divas on top, 14-0, with 12:48 left in the first quarter.

The Divas’ defensive dominance continued on the next series, forcing Richmond to lose yardage on three plays. Ashley Whisonant returned the Black Widows punt to the Richmond 20-yard line, and rookie running back Christiana Burton registered her first career touchdown on a three-yard run to put the Divas ahead, 21-0, with 9:16 remaining in the first quarter.

Just when the Divas had opened up a sizable advantage, the Black Widows struck for their biggest play of the game. A Divas penalty put Richmond in business near midfield, and quarterback Katelyn Wright found wide receiver Clauron James open behind the D.C. defense for a 52-yard touchdown pass. The extra point pass fell incomplete, but the Black Widows had cut their deficit to 21-6 with 8:43 left in the first quarter.

The Divas had an answer two series later. Whisonant made a shoe-top catch of a 13-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Allyson Hamlin to make the Divas’ lead 28-6 with 1:46 remaining in the opening quarter. Alicia Hopkins capped off a dominant first period for the Divas by picking off a Richmond pass, and the Divas led by 22 points heading into the second quarter.

A second rookie running back got her first career touchdown in this contest when Briana Croley rushed for a three-yard touchdown with 13:28 left in the first half. The extra point kick hit the upright and fell away, but the Divas still led, 34-6.

The D.C. defense was strong all game long, forcing a punt on the next Richmond drive. The Divas’ offense immediately got back to work, with Hamlin finding Kentrina Wilson for a 25-yard touchdown reception. The Divas extended their advantage to 41-6 with 7:47 remaining in the second quarter, and Hamlin exited the game with two touchdown passes in one and a half quarters of play.

Kendra Bates, the longtime veteran who played several seasons with the Baltimore Nighthawks, relieved Hamlin at quarterback and led the Divas on a scoring drive at the end of the first half. Bates finished the drive by calling her own number and taking the ball into the end zone herself from one yard out to notch her first touchdown with the Divas. Bates’ score put the Divas on top of Richmond by a 48-6 count with 58 seconds left in the first half.

The D.C. Divas led at halftime, 48-6, and the Divas were able to get their reserves valuable playing time throughout the second half. Kucheria Eades recovered the second half kickoff for the Divas, a feat performed by Eris Woodard in the first half. Rookie running back Roshonda Ware had several strong runs in the second half, giving the Divas a first and goal at the one-yard line in the third quarter.

But a tackle for loss sent the Divas backwards, and a potential touchdown pass from Bates to Melissa Washington was wiped out by a penalty. The drive ended with Nealis attempting a 34-yard field goal, but although the kick had the distance, the ball sailed wide and the Divas remained scoreless in the second half.

That was the Divas’ only offensive possession of the third quarter, as a running clock was instituted at halftime. The Divas got only one offensive possession in the fourth quarter as well, and while the Divas drove into the Richmond red zone, the offense eventually turned the ball over on downs. The halftime score would go down as the final score, with the D.C. Divas defeating the Richmond Black Widows, 48-6.

Having completed a two-game road swing, the Divas return home this Saturday looking for their first home win of the year when they take on one of the Southeast’s strongest teams, the Atlanta Phoenix.

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