ONTARIO, Calif. — On a night where Los Angeles unveiled a championship banner and welcomed back a veteran coach, the Temptation narrowly defeated the Seattle Mist, 27-24, thanks to an Ashley Salerno (8/14, 6 YDS, TD, INT) touchdown run with less-than-one minute remaining in the contest.
The winning drive, engineered by Game MVP Melissa Margulies (9 ATT., 73 YDS, TD — 123 TOTAL YDS), capped off a stirring second-half rally in an intensely competitive game. Then, the Los Angeles defense withstood a furious Seattle comeback attempt to clinch the win.
After a back-and-forth start to the second-half, the Seattle Mist ultimately clawed their way to a 24-20 advantage thanks to a Laurel Creel one-yard touchdown run, set up by her strong running ability as well as a couple of key rushes by Kam Warner (7 ATT, 48 YDS).
Trailing 12-8 at halftime, the Temptation quickly regained the lead on their first drive as Salerno connected with Audrey Latsko on a one-yard touchdown pass to vault the home team to a 14-12 advantage only 3:14 into the second half. Great field position was set up by a 25-yard kickoff return by Margulies.
The first half proved to be a defensive battle early on, with the scoring commencing on an Amber Reed (7 ATT, 71 YDS, TD) 27-yard run to push Los Angeles to an 8-0 lead. Late in the half, Seattle responded twice, as Laurel Creel (8/24, 118 YDS, 3 TD) connected first with Jessica Hopkins (4 REC., 77 YDS, 2 TD) with 2:21 remaining to cut the deficit to 8-6 and then, after a Hopkins interception, found Christine Moore for a seven yard strikewith 32 seconds remaining to give the visitors the advantage heading into halftime.
Los Angeles once again struggled in the passing game, posting only 6-total-net-yards as the Seattle pass defense, led by Hopkins, proved stingy throughout the night. The Mist’s Achilles’ Heel, however, proved to be their rush defense, which had serious difficulty containing Reed and Margulies, especially late in the contest.
The Temptation defense was not impressive on the evening, however, played big when it mattered, led by Ogom Chijindu (5 tackles) and Stephanie Psick (5 tackles).
The Mist running attack, headlined by Warner, was not as effective as it had been in previous weeks, as the team instead elected to pass the football 40-percent more than their opponents.
Returning Los Angeles Head Coach David Bizub has now won 11 consecutive games (including playoffs) and has not been defeated since October, 2009 (at Dallas Desire). The Temptation recently saw their two year winning streak come to an end in November against the Las Vegas Sin.
In the end, Los Angeles (2-1, +16 PTS.) proved resilient enough to win their third consecutive game over Seattle and now are in a position to clinch a third consecutive playoff berth with a win in their home finale versus Chicago (1-2, -7 PTS.) Seattle (1-2, +27 PTS.) will attempt to pick up the pieces from the heartbreaking defeat and eye a .500 finish next Friday against the Minnesota Valkyrie (1-2, -25 PTS.).
PHOTOS COURTESY: JOE PETRO/LFL PHOTOS
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