By: Jim Wallin (LFL360.com)
Photos: Joe Petro/LFL PHOTOS
ORLANDO -- The thermometer may have read 40-degrees at kickoff, but Orlando’s running game proved to be scorching hot as Game MVP Etta Paul (12 ATT., 95 YDS, 5 TD) led a massive ground offensive that pushed the Toronto Triumph defense back all night for a convincing 49-18 win.
In a violent clash between two inter-conference foes both hungry for a close-out win, Orlando proved to be tougher, deeper and more polished in large part because of their ground superiority, as Paul commenced the scoring with an 18-yard run, 46-seconds in to put Orlando on the board.
The Fantasy defense stifled the Triumph for most of the first half, effectively setting up three more Paul scores, including a three-yard run at the 5:01 mark, a one-yard plunge at the 10:04 mark and, after teammate Taylor Thompson (29 TOTAL YDS., TD) found the end zone on a 10-yard run, Paul exploded again, this time for 27 yards for her fourth touchdown of the half.
Orlando’s Jeannette McCoy (8/12, 74 YDS., TD), who recently solidified her position as the team’s franchise quarterback, effectively managed the game as the Fantasy doubled their output in the passing game. McCoy and the wide receiving tandem of Jenny Kraus (4 REC., 43 YDS., TD) and Thompson (3 REC., 19 YDS.) worked in perfect autonomy for most of the evening against an over-matched Triumph secondary.
Marife Villagonzalo (9/27, 111 YDS., 2 TD), who started at quarterback in place of the injured Donna Paul, showed poise in the pocket and and a powerful, accurate arm, connecting on two impressive touchdown strikes to receiving leader Crystal Hall (7 REC., 104 YDS.), including a last-second 15-yard prayer that was answered to end the first half as well as a 29-yard bomb in the second half.
Toronto’s defense was over-matched all evening, however, the Triumph did hold strong, not allowing a successful conversion attempt out of five Fantasy opportunities in the first half. Hall, starting at middle linebacker for the injured Kaye Rowe, led the unit with six tackles.
The Fantasy’s top-ranked defense lived in the Toronto backfield, in an impressive display of skill, athleticism and raw power, capped off by a punishing hit on Villagonzalo by S Deidre Strickland (2.5 TACKLES, 1 FR.) and a fumble recovery and score by DE Vonshari Hoardes (4 TACKLES, .5 SACKS, TD).
Orlando (3-1) ends the franchise’s second season with a winning record and boasts a vastly improved campaign over the franchise’s inaugural win-less season.
For Toronto (0-4), the loss signifies a win-less season in their lone season in the U.S. league, as the Triumph will re-emerge as the flagship franchise for LFL Canada, set to debut in Fall 2012. The Triumph scored a team-high 18 points in the loss.
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