HEAVENLY DEBUT FOR THE ANGELS
(PERTH, Australia – Monday, December 23, 2013) The LFL gods shined down upon the Western Australia Angels as they shocked the LFL world by beating the previously No.1 ranked New South Wales Surge, 20-18. Moments before kickoff LFL Australia’s biggest fan base drew the season’s largest crowd at nib Stadium. It was evident even before kickoff that the 8th Man (Fans) would be a factor on a night where the fate of WA’s season hung in the balance.
A loss and WA best hopes are a 2-2 and a very unlikely scenario for them to advance to Legends Cup (LFL’s Grand Final), a win and they are back in the race at 1-1 alongside NSW and Victoria.
The fireworks started early for WA as the first play on their first possession highlighted one of the Young Guns of LFL Australia WA’s Quarterback Leah Turnbull connecting with US import tight end Adrian Purnell for a 22 yard touchdown pass to give WA a 6-0 lead.
It was an early wake up call for a New South Wales offense that most expected would dominate an unproven WA defense, however mishaps and miscues riddled the NSW offense for most of the 1st half including two key turnovers. NSW’s opening night breakout star Bonnie Gillespie was held in check to only 20 first half yards. Gillespie did manage to cap a 2 play 11 yard NSW drive with a 1 yard touchdown run with 5:53 left in the half to tie the game at 6-6.
Young Turnbull despite being under-attack most of the night kept her composure to orchestrate one of the most impressive drives of the night when WA drove down the field on a 6 play 33 yard drive by 18yr old Britney Were who went into the end zone on a 4 yard touchdown run to give WA a 12-6 lead at halftime.
Tension built between the players and even coaches on the sidelines as perhaps LFL Australia’s biggest rivalry was developing before our eyes. Going into halftime both teams left opportunities on the field and both were in a great position for a 2nd half run.
Each club fully understood what was on the line, a win provides you a commanding head to head tie-breaker advantage should both clubs finish a likely 3-1 on the season.
Despite some flashes of brilliance, WA’s Turnbull has also at times shown us why she is a rookie, as savvy US import middle linebacker Monique Gaxiola baited the young Turnbull early in the 2nd half to throw a pass in the flat that Gaxiola intercepted and returned to the house to tie the game at 12-12. To make matters worse for WA, Turnbull was hurt on the play and without a valid back-up, it appeared the Angels wings were clipped.
To the near capacity crowd at nib Stadium a sense of uneasiness set in, as it felt this was the turning of momentum and possibly where the No.1 ranked Surge would pull away. That anxiety was compounded when it took NSW only 1 play to score on a naked bootleg by Quarterback Jacinda Barclay to give NSW a 18-12 lead with 5:27 left in the 4th Quarter.
Turnbull returned to command the most important game-winning drive of her career and perhaps of the WA Angels franchise as it only took 3 plays for the offense to go 35 yards capped by Game MVP Tammie West’s 4 yard touchdown run with 4:03 remaining in the game.
A final 4:03 stood in front of WA’s monster upset win and a successful home debut, it was now squarely on the shoulders of the WA defense to hold the most explosive offense in the league. The defense stepped up, pressuring Barclay and forcing her into 3 incompletions with her only completion coming on 4th down for only 4 yards as NSW turned it over on downs and officially waved the white flag.
As the final seconds ticked off the clock, thousands stood up and start cheering their Angels who were seconds away from an unlikely win. Alongside the huge win, WA also developed a lot of its identity with the continuing development of Turnbull and now two more solid offensive weapons in Tammie West on the outside and the 18yr old Britney Were who accounted for 77 yards on the ground.
For WA, they finish the season with two match-ups versus Queensland and NSW now is forced into a must-win scenario returning to Penrith this Saturday night vs. a scary Victoria club also coming off an emotional win.
|passing yds (net)||86||53|
|TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS||39-115||39-117|