12-15-12 Pacific Cup

Seattle Offense Too Much for BC to Handle in the First Ever Pacific Cup, LFL360.com, Pete Richmire

LFL360.com, Pete Richmire

The first-ever LFL Pacific Cup is in the books and it certainly lived up to all the hype. The LFL U.S. Seattle Mist hosted the LFL Canada Champion BC Angels in a game dubbed “The Border War.” That it was.

This was also a tale of two completely different games. The 38-18 final score in favor of the Mist could have been much closer, and may have even ended with a BC win had a couple key first half drives ended differently.

Mist quarterback Laurel Creel connected with rookie Shuree Hyatt early for a two yard score. Hyatt found the end zone again shortly after on a 26 yard run. The score at half-time was 16-0 Seattle, and it looked as though a blowout was in the making. With the exception of some runs by Stephanie Manou and Mary Anne Hanson, BC’s offense was scarce.

The Angels had two red-zone opportunities in the first half which could have changed the outcome of the game. The first BC drive ended with an interception in the end zone. During another drive, the Angels failed to score after back-to-back-to-back false start penalties pushed them further and further from the goal line. Had those key mistakes been avoided, this game may have been tied at the half.

BC head coach Kevin Snell said after the game that his team played like this all year. They started slow and turned it up in the second half, even in the LFL Canada playoffs. Seattle Mist veteran Riki Creger-Zier mentioned that the Mist have the opposite tendency. They play hard for the first half and let up in the second. The third quarter seemed was therefore crucial for both teams.

Mist kicker Christine Moore put the second half kick-off deep into the end zone. Ashley Petrie received it for the Angels and ran out to the two-yard line before handing it off to Aleesa Garcia who took it the rest of the way to complete a 56 yard kick-off return for a touchdown. BC failed on a one point conversion attempt, but managed to stun the ShoWare Center crowd. The score was now 16-6 Seattle.

After holding the Mist to a four and out, BC took over with great field position and momentum. With 5:30 left to go in the third quarter, the Angels’ offense was dealt a blow when LFL Canada’s leading rusher, Stephanie Manou, was pulled from the game after taking a knee to her head at the end of a run. Much like the NFL, the LFL has taken a strong stance on player safety and deals with concussions seriously, so Manou did not return to the game as a precaution. She finished with 9 rushes for 28 yards.

Just over two minutes later, Hanson connected with Jeanette Jackson from 7 yards out for a BC touchdown, and the possibility of a first road win for the Angels was looking good. Even after the two point conversion attempt failed they were still within four, trailing Seattle 16-12.

The Mist had an answer on the next drive however, and her name was Riki Creger-Zier. After she took a 20 yard reverse down to the Angels seven yard line, she was on the receiving end of a 12 yard touchdown pass from Laurel Creel to close out the third quarter. Creger-Zier ran in the two point conversion as well to put the Mist up 24-12 to begin the fourth quarter.

BC answered on the very next play as Stevi Schnoor took a pitch from Hanson and launched the ball deep down the right side to Aleesa Garcia who went into the end zone untouched for an Angels touchdown. Garcia would finish with 44 yards and 1 TD on the day. The score was now 24-18 Seattle, but during the two point conversion attempt, Hanson was intercepted by Shuree Hyatt who returned it all the way back the other way to extend the Mist’s lead to 26-18. In addition to this interception return, Hyatt would finish the day with 27 yards rushing, 7 yards receiving, 1 rushing touchdown, 1 receiving touchdown; a huge day for the rookie from Seattle.

Seattle QB Laurel Creel, who won the Pacific Cup Most Valuable Player award, put the game out of reach for BC when she drove in a touchdown herself from one yard out with just 3:41 remaining. Creel completed 11 of 24 for 89 yards with 3 passing TDs, and 2 INTs, in addition to this 1-yard TD run. The conversion failed, but it was still a two possession game now at 32-18.

On the first play of the following drive, the Angels looked like they would answer quickly again when Hanson found Petrie on a long pass that took them all the way down to the Seattle 6-yard line. However, small mistakes remained the thorn in the side of the Angels as Heidi Nordby was unable to hold on to a pass in the end zone and they turned the ball over on downs. BC quarterback Mary Anne Hanson went only 5 for 20 on passing attempts for 63 yards and a TD.

Once again Creger-Zier came up big with a 27 yard run with 1:07 left which set up Seattle’s final score. Creel found Seattle Mist captain Jessica Hopkins for a 13-yard Mist touchdown and a 38-18 lead, which would be the game’s final score.

Seattle head coach Chris Michaelson will give the Seattle Mist players the next two weeks off and then plans to get back to work after the first of the year. Meanwhile, BC Angels head coach Kevin Snell begins working with his team on their first LFL off-season.

This was a tough exhibition meeting between a first year team and an established team that is returning 12 players this year, but for the fans at the ShoWare and those who saw the game on LFLLive.com, the first Pacific Cup looked like a championship match between bitter rivals. Many Border Wars to come…