By Andy Arnold
As it turns out, statistics do lie. And the statistics attributed to Atlanta were just subterfuge, especially seeing as though the Phoenix defense turned out to be no match for Washington’s running attack in the Women’s Football Alliance Eastern Conference semifinal June 30. The Divas routed Atlanta 56-0 to advance to the July 14 conference championship against Boston.
The Divas added a new wrinkle for this game, a counter play, which helped contribute to Washington running for nearly 300 yards on this hot, sticky night. The play worked to perfection behind guard Alexandria Banks and tackle Becky Worsham.
D’Ajaj Scott broke 69- and 67-yard runs to pay dirt in the first quarter. She had a 14-yard touchdown run before that.
Scott said the team put the counter play in a couple of week ago and this was the first time Washington used it. Worsham said her read on the play is a linebacker, and when the Divas ran the play for the 67-yarder there was no one for her to hit. Scott had more than 250 yards (267) and four touchdowns.
Genaya Davis scored with a 16-yard twisting dive up the middle. Celeste Nagel also scored on a two-yard romp. Okiima Pickett Trotter hit pay dirt from seven yards out. Kentrina Wilson caught four passes for 47 yards, and a touchdown.
Amanda Congialdi finished eight of 22 passing for 70 yards and a TD. Stephanie Nealis was golden on all eight point-after-attempts.
The Phoenix attempted three passes on its first possession. The first was dropped. The second was thrown behind the receiver and the third was blocked. Atlanta quarterback Renee Langlais “hit me right in the hands with it,” DC defensive lineman Jazmyne Claggett said on the sidelines.
Although Washington entered the game with the lowest ranked defense in the WFA, Atlanta managed only one first down throughout the first half. That came on a 10 yard pass to Ryvan Buchanan a couple of seconds before the whistle.
The Divas defense did as it pleased. Langlais was only 2 of 14 passing, she had been sacked twice and the QB ran the ball five times by intermission for minus 18 yards, counting the sacks. Ronika Toombs and Shanice Wheeler did a little better running for 18 and 29 yards respectively by intermission.
The second half was even worse for the Phoenix. Atlanta closed the game with a 12-play drive witch took more than eight minutes as Washington substituted liberally in the second half to keep players fresh. The Phoenix were in the shotgun, but the snaps were off resulting in lost yards. ShaDella Reese broke a run for 17 yards during the drive, and Mylashia Johnson picked up 23. Washington committed a personal on the Johnson run and the next play to give Atlanta its first back-to-back first downs in the game.
Next thing you know, Diva linebacker Miteka Trueheart steps into break up a pass. Kristen London meets the Washington defense up close and personal for a six-yard loss and Reese throws her third incompletion to stop Atlanta’s longest drive of the game.
Wheeler topped Phoenix runners with 29 yards. The team gained 1 yard on 25 carries. The team was three of 19 passing for 27 yards.