By: Jim Wallin (LFL360.com)
Photos: Joe Petro/LFL PHOTOS
TAMPA — The Tampa Breeze used a late second half drive, capped off by Game MVP Liz Gorman’s (6 ATT., 38 YDS, 2 TD) one yard touchdown run with under one minute remaining to defeat the Orlando Fantasy 20-18 and earn the franchise’s second consecutive playoff berth.
Gorman’s game-winning touchdown was made possible by a well-balanced attack, namely quarterback K.K. Matheny’s (11/20, 96 YDS., TD) ability to connect through the air with Courtney Wilder (2 REC., 26 YDS.) at the beginning of the drive and Adrian Purnell (2 REC., 15 YDS.) at a critical juncture to position the Breeze for the score.
The difference proved to be the elevated play of Tampa safety Bryn Renda (3 INT.), whose third interception of the evening proved to be the most important, ultimately stemming the tide and allowing her teammates the opportunity to push ahead.
The game featured a see-saw affair, with both teams dealing punishing blows consistent with a heated rivalry game. Orlando and Tampa traded leads throughout the contest, with the Fantasy gaining an 18-14 second half advantage thanks to a seven-yard touchdown run by Anonka Dixon.
The second half began as it effectively ended for the Orlando offense, in the arms of Renda, who tormented Dixon all night. Gorman led the Breeze with 11 tackles, with the total vaulting her to the statistical lead in tackles and tackles-per-game.
The Fantasy running game, as a whole, enjoyed an effective evening as four players, Etta Paul (9 ATT., 53 YDS,TD , Anonka Dixon (11 ATT., 31 YDS, 2 TD), Taylor Thompson (2 ATT., 27 YDS.) and Victoria Moreno (5 ATT., 24 YDS) rushed for over 20 yards each. However, the passing game failed to carry over its solid play in their last win over Cleveland as Dixon completed more passes to the other team (3) than to her teammates (2) and McCoy only attempted two passes. Jenny Kraus led the way for Orlando’s receivers (2 ATT., 20 YDS.) but could not find the end zone.
Trailing 6-0 early, the Tampa Breeze offense, led by K.K. Matheny and Bryn Renda quickly answered the first blow as the former scrambled in the pocket to generate more time to throw and ultimately found the latter wide open for a 27-yard-touchdown, plus two point conversion to give the hosts an 8-6 advantage.
Orlando heads home to face the Toronto Triumph in their season finale on January 13, while the Tampa Breeze, by virtue of a head-to-head tiebreaker as a result of this game’s outcome, will now take aim once again at the Philadelphia Passion on January 29, 2011 from Ontario, CA for the Eastern Conference Championship and right to play on February 5 in Las Vegas for Lingerie Bowl IX. Philadelphia defeated Tampa 48-0 in September, though the Breeze were missing several veteran starters due to suspensions.
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