Recaps of the four games in the conference quarterfinal round of the 2015 Women’s Football Alliance playoffs, and a preview of the two conference championship games:
D.C. 40, Atlanta 6 – The D.C. Divas advanced to their first conference championship game since 2010 and their first as members of the WFA with a 40-6 victory over the Atlanta Phoenix. The Divas (10-0) have reached double-digit victories in a season for the third time in team history.
The Phoenix (6-4) got an early break, recovering the opening kickoff in D.C. territory. But they turned the ball over on downs at the Divas’ 30-yard line, and the Divas wasted little time getting on the scoreboard. Allyson Hamlin found Ashley Whisonant for a 66-yard touchdown pass on the Divas’ second offensive play of the game. Hamlin added a touchdown of her own on a quarterback sneak later in the period, and the Divas led after one quarter, 13-0.
Hamlin threw two more touchdowns in the second quarter. Whisonant caught her second touchdown pass of the game early in the period, and Kentrina Wilson added a 77-yard touchdown reception late in the first half. The Divas’ defense also produced on the scoreboard, as linebacker Alicia Hopkins ran an interception back 50 yards for a score. The Divas led at halftime, 34-0.
Atlanta scored their only touchdown of the game on a 38-yard pass from Tammy Nelson to Ramiah Smith. That score in the third quarter cut the Divas’ advantage to 34-6, but the Divas responded later in the period with a one-yard rushing touchdown by Callie Brownson for the final points of the game.
Chicago 49, Boston 18 – The Chicago Force avenged their only loss of the season by getting the only road victory of the conference semifinal round, traveling to Boston and toppling the Renegades, 49-18. The Force (9-1) now advance to the conference championship game for the fourth consecutive year.
The game could not have started better for the Force, as Jamie Fornal returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown and put Chicago ahead, 7-0, just 18 seconds into the game. Fornal made another key play on Chicago’s next drive, catching a 13-yard pass at the one-yard line on fourth and eight. Rachel Gore carried from there on a one-yard keeper to put Chicago ahead, 13-0.
The Renegades (4-3) got on the scoreboard with a 23-yard field goal by Brooke Goodman and cut the deficit to 13-3 after one quarter. On Chicago’s next possession, Gore scored her second rushing touchdown of the day, a six-yard carry on fourth and one that pushed the lead up to 19-3. But Allison Cahill countered for the Renegades with an eight-yard touchdown pass to Adrienne Smith, pulling the Renegades back within 19-10 midway through the second quarter.
Cassey Brick gave Chicago command of the game with two explosive touchdown runs. Brick took a short screen pass from Gore and ran 61 yards for the end zone, and minutes later, she took another screen pass and zipped 76 yards for another long touchdown. Brick’s two scoring runs put Chicago on top at halftime, 35-10.
Gore added two more rushing touchdowns in the third quarter – giving her four for the game – and the Force had a 49-10 advantage after three periods. Stacey Tiamfook scored on an 11-yard touchdown run with three minutes remaining in the game for Boston, but the Force ran out the clock on an impressive 49-18 victory.
Dallas 70, Kansas City 14 – The Dallas Elite moved on to the conference championship game in their inaugural season of play with a 70-14 victory over the Kansas City Titans. The Elite (10-0) have won every single game this season by 40 points or more.
The Titans (6-4), however, came to play and competed early. After Tiffany Hill put Dallas on top initially with a 30-yard touchdown run, Kansas City returned the ensuing kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown and executed the two-point conversion for an 8-6 lead. The Elite found themselves behind in a game for the first time all season long, and they trailed by two points after the first quarter.
Brittany Satterwhite put the Elite back on top, 12-8, with a 30-yard touchdown run. Kansas City responded, however, and seized the lead right back on a 48-yard touchdown run for a 14-12 advantage. But Dallas would go ahead for good midway through the second quarter on Satterwhite’s second touchdown run of the game, which handed the Elite a 20-14 lead.
From there, it was all Dallas. Odessa Jenkins rushed for a touchdown to give the Elite some breathing room, and Tiffany Hill got her second rushing touchdown of the game just before halftime to put Dallas on top at intermission, 36-14.
The Elite built on their lead in the third quarter with four rushing touchdowns in the frame. Tiffany Hill added two of those to finish the contest with four rushing scores, and the Elite built a 62-14 lead after three quarters. Jenkins added her third touchdown of the game in the final period, as the Elite scored 58 unanswered points to close out 70-14 victory.
San Diego 57, Seattle 27 – The San Diego Surge advanced to their fourth conference championship game in five years with a hard-fought 57-27 victory over the Seattle Majestics. The Surge (9-1) improved to 13-1 all-time in American Conference playoff games.
The Majestics (9-1) jumped all over San Diego early. Seattle recovered an onside kick on the opening kickoff, and Rachel Woods then found Tessla Rennie near the goal line. Although Rennie fumbled the ball, Julia McComas recovered in the end zone for a Majestics touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
Jackie McCall then picked off a San Diego pass, which set up another Seattle touchdown. Woods found Rennie in the red zone again, and this time she held on for the score and a 13-0 advantage. But San Diego gained some momentum when Jessica Springer took the blocked extra point kick attempt and returned it all the way across the field for a two-point conversion and a 13-2 deficit.
The Surge then went to work on offense behind Alexis Snyder, who rushed for two straight touchdowns to put San Diego in front, 16-13. Natasha Johnson intercepted a Seattle pass with seconds remaining in the first quarter and returned it 16 yards for a touchdown, increasing the Surge advantage to 23-13 after a wild first quarter.
Snyder added her third touchdown run of the game early in the second period, putting San Diego on top, 30-13. But just as it looked like San Diego might be pulling away, Woods found Melissa Castor on a five-yard touchdown strike to close the Majestics within 30-20 at halftime.
The Surge would lean on Deana Guidry in the second half, and she delivered by rushing for two touchdowns. Her first score pushed San Diego’s advantage back out to 37-20, but again, Seattle responded. Woods threw her third touchdown pass of the game, a 40-yard strike to Chris Hernandez, and the Majestics were back within ten points at 37-27 after three quarters.
San Diego finally pulled away in the fourth quarter, however, with three scores in the final frame. Melissa Gallegos threw her only touchdown pass of the night to Knengi Martin for an eight-yard score, and rushing touchdowns by Guidry and Adrianna Bush sealed a 57-27 victory for the Surge.
WFA National Conference Championship Game: Chicago Force (9-1) @ D.C. Divas (10-0)
Arguably the two most historic franchises in the WFA will meet in the National Conference title game when the Chicago Force travel to take on the D.C. Divas. The Force and Divas both have 108 victories all-time, tied for the most of any WFA team. The Force and Divas are both making their 12th playoff appearance, also tied for the most of any WFA team. Chicago’s seventh appearance in a conference title game will be the most by any WFA franchise, while the Divas will make their sixth appearance in the semifinal round.
The Divas and Force have never met in the postseason. Their only meeting took place last year, when Chicago traveled to D.C. and handed the Divas a 42-27 defeat on April 19, 2014.
The D.C. Divas will make their sixth conference title game appearance but their first since 2010. This will be the first time the Divas have hosted a conference championship game since 2006, the year they won their only national championship.
The Chicago Force will make their fourth straight conference title game appearance. The Force are looking to clinch their third conference championship in four years and return to the WFA national championship game that they won in 2013.
WFA American Conference Championship Game: San Diego Surge (9-1) @ Dallas Elite (10-0)
The reigning champion San Diego Surge will travel to meet the upstart Dallas Elite for the American Conference championship. Because this is the Elite’s first season, these two teams have technically never met. But San Diego and Dallas are very familiar with each other, as these two cities have a women’s football history that dates back to when the Dallas Diamonds battled the So Cal Scorpions.
This will be the fifth straight season in which the American Conference champion comes from San Diego or Dallas. The Surge defeated the Diamonds en route to conference titles in 2011 and 2012. The only year the Surge have failed to win the conference championship was in 2013, when the Diamonds took the crown.
The Elite are looking to bring a sixth conference championship to the city of Dallas. Their predecessors, the Dallas Diamonds, played in the 2013 WFA national championship game before folding, and after a one-year absence, the Elite have brought women’s football back to prominence in Dallas. The Elite are now one win away from returning a Dallas team to the WFA championship game in their first year of existence.
The San Diego Surge are seeking their fourth American Conference championship in five years. They are undefeated in three previous conference title game appearances, but this will be the first time they have had to play for a conference championship on the road. They look to make their fourth appearance in the WFA national championship game that they won in 2012.
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