Recap vs. Philadelphia Phantomz – April 21, 2018

Team Effort Results In 52-0 Victory over Philadelphia
DC 52, Philadelphia 0
By Neal Rozendaal

Landover, MD – After losing their home opener in five of the last six seasons, the D.C. Divas were eager to open their 2018 home schedule with a victory. The entire team made sure that this time, the home fans could go home happy.

Six different players scored touchdowns on offense and three different defensive backs made interceptions on defense as the D.C. Divas hammered the Philadelphia Phantomz, 52-0. All three Divas interceptions came in the second quarter, when the Divas took control of the game by scoring two touchdowns in the final minute before the halftime break.

D’Ajah Scott made her presence felt early in the game for the Divas (1-1). Scott returned the opening kickoff 31 yards into Philadelphia territory, and she then gained 47 yards on four carries to advance the ball to the Phantomz’ one-yard line. Amanda Congialdi took it from there, scoring on a one-yard quarterback sneak just over three minutes into the game. Congialdi had an excellent night, completing six of seven passes in the first half for 111 yards and three touchdowns and adding a rushing score. Stephanie Nealis booted the extra point after Congialdi’s touchdown to put the Divas in front, 7-0.

The Phantomz (0-3) dodged a bullet on their first possession. After a three and out possession by Philadelphia, the Divas’ Shelly Freeman returned the ensuing punt 49 yards through a crowd of potential tacklers for an apparent touchdown. But the Divas were flagged for running into the kicker, which not only negated the score but gave Philadelphia a first down.

Philadelphia’s Satoria Bell had a 20-yard run on the next play to put the ball in Divas territory for the first time. The D.C. defense then made their first stand of the contest, stopping the Phantomz offense on four plays and forcing a turnover on downs near midfield.

The Divas’ offense was unable to capitalize, however; three runs for negative yards resulted in the Divas turning the ball back over on downs at Philadelphia’s 48-yard line with seconds remaining in the first quarter. After one period, the Divas held a 7-0 lead over the Phantomz.

The Divas’ pass defense stood tall on the Phantomz’ first drive of the second quarter. Following a one-yard gain, three straight incompletions gave the Divas possession again near midfield.

The Divas would cash in on their second chance. Scott carried the ball twice for 23 yards, and then Congialdi found Shaquanda Gainey along the sidelines for a 26-yard touchdown strike. Gainey’s touchdown catch put the Divas on top, 14-0, early in the second quarter.

Minutes later, Divas defensive back Quiana Ford supplied the back-breaking play of the game. Philadelphia had put together a nice drive into Divas territory, but their quarterback, Shantia Creech, went to the sidelines with an injury. The Divas’ defensive backs baited the Phantomz’ backup quarterback into the first turnover of the game when Ford jumped in front of a receiver and returned an interception 63 yards to the end zone. Quiana Ford’s pick six padded the Divas’ advantage to 21-0 with 7:52 left in the first half.

Philadelphia then mounted their most serious scoring threat of the game. Satoria Bell outleaped a Divas defender for a pass and raced 52 yards down to the D.C. 27-yard line. Genaya Davis caught Bell from behind to prevent a touchdown, and four plays later, Davis intercepted a Philly pass at the Divas’ 30-yard line to spoil the Phantomz’ drive with 2:57 remaining before halftime.

Divas wide receiver Kentrina Wilson took charge on the next drive. Her first catch of the game was a 35-yard reception on third down and 13, and she narrowly stepped out of bounds at the Philadelphia 38-yard line with a clear path to the end zone in front of her. Three plays later, Wilson raced to the end zone, made a nice adjustment on the ball thrown by Congialdi, and hauled in a 25-yard touchdown pass to make the score 28-0 with just 46 seconds left before intermission. Kentrina Wilson ended the game with two catches for 60 yards and a touchdown.

It looked as though that would be the halftime score. But Philadelphia took to the air again, and once again, the Divas’ defensive backs made them pay. Eleni Kotsis reeled in the Divas’ third interception of the quarter and made an impressive 32-yard return down the sidelines to the Phantomz’ 15-yard line with just 26 seconds left in the second quarter.

On the very next play, D’Ajah Scott was well-covered in the end zone when she outleaped two Phantomz defenders and made a spectacular catch of a Congialdi touchdown pass with 16 seconds remaining. Scott finished the contest with 70 yards rushing on six carries, 31 kickoff return yards, and a 15-yard touchdown reception. Her touchdown grab gave the Divas a 35-0 lead at the halftime break.

The Divas’ defense continued their stellar play in the second half, forcing a three and out on Philadelphia’s first possession. The timeless Trigger McNair, now in her 20th season of women’s football, led the Divas with 4.5 tackles, while Dana Blakey added 2.5. Tia Watkins, Genaya Davis, Whitney Simms, Miteka Trueheart, Monica Milton, and Jazmyne Claggett all contributed two tackles apiece.

The Divas started their first possession of the second half at the Philadelphia 32-yard line. Facing fourth and goal from the nine-yard line, Stephanie Nealis booted a 26-yard field goal to give the Divas a 38-0 lead midway through the third quarter. Nealis had ten points on the evening with one field goal and a perfect record of seven successful PAT kicks on seven attempts.

Following another three and out by Philadelphia, Shelly Freeman took over the starring role on the Divas’ offense. Freeman carried the ball three times for 34 yards on the drive, with her last carry going six yards over the goal line for a touchdown and a 45-0 Divas advantage after three quarters.

The Phantomz picked up a first down as the fourth quarter began but could not sustain the drive, and the Divas once again regained possession early in the final period. The Divas showed off the depth of their running back corps, with Shelly Freeman (eight carries for 52 yards), Curtina Pope (eight carries for 31 yards), and Christiana Burton (three carries for 21 yards) taking turns wearing down the Philadelphia defense. Freeman ultimately scored her second touchdown of the night on a five-yard run with 4:55 left in the game, which made the final score 52-0 in favor of the Divas.

With the win, the Divas earned their first non-forfeit victory in a home opener since defeating the Boston Militia to open the 2011 season. The Divas return to action this Saturday when they go on the road to face the undefeated and Eastern Conference-leading Pittsburgh Passion.