By: Jim Wallin (LFL360.com)
SEATTLE – The Las Vegas Sin stormed into the sold-out ShoWare Center with the force of a strong cold-front, shifting the temperature from fall to winter in an impressive first-half flurry which ultimately froze out the resilient Seattle Mist, 28-24.
A tale of two halves, the game was ultimately decided in the final minute as Game MVP QB Nikki Johnson (6/12, 44 yards, 2 TD, 18 yards rushing), proved instrumental in the visitors’ strong first half and effectively managed the game-clinching drive to vault the visitors to their second straight road win.
Entering the second half after a disastrous first half showing, the Mist played inspired football, beginning with their kickoff coverage team, inducing a safety by the Sin to draw the home team within 18 points at 28-10. After a key red zone stop on Las Vegas’ successive drive, back-up quarterback Laurel Creel (7/17, 94 yards passing, 2 TD), filling in for an ineffective starter Angela Rypien, combined with wide receiver Jessica Hopkins (4 receptions, 88 yards, TD) to engineer a critical drive which culminated in the latter reeling in a touchdown reception to cut the deficit to 28-16. However, after a spirited defensive stop, Seattle’s momentum came to a screeching halt with five-minutes remaining, when Creel’s fourth down pass was ruled incomplete.
Las Vegas dominated the first half, capitalizing on several Seattle miscues, including a questionable opening kickoff return that positioned the Mist at the one-yard line, two interceptions, two impressive touchdown receptions by Sunshine Misa-Uli (3 receptions/29 yards, 2 TD), a long Tracee Thomas (5 carries/55 yards, TD) touchdown scamper and, perhaps, the most revealing play of the half, as Sin back-up quarterback Joey Davenport (1/1, 23 yards, TD) connected with Cassandra Strickland (2 receptions/29 yards, TD) , to extend the ‘Vegas advantage, the latter using her raw strength to reel in the ball over two Mist defenders to add six points to the board for the visitors.
The Sin pass defense delivered another strong first-half performance, limiting the Mist to 16 yards passing, though the rush defense struggled mightily, allowing 12.7 yards-per-carry, thanks to the strong performances of Kam Warner (5 carries/54 yards, TD) and Ericka Smith (4 carries/35 yards). After allowing only 27 yards passing to Chicago in an opening night road win, the unit struggled in the second half, allowing 94 passing yards and 110 total passing yards on the evening.
Still, Tamica Estrella (4 tackles, 1 INT) and Uli (4 tackles), were effective in limiting the short-and-medium passing routes, while combining with the strong performances of their teammates to hold firm in spite of Seattle’s strong advantage in time of possession.
Mist quarterbacks Rypien and Laurel Creel (0 /3, 0 TD, INT in first half) turned in sub-par performance in the first 17 minutes, with the former being benched for the second-half by Mist Head Coach Chris Michaelson.
Adding injury to insult, Warner was helped off of the field in the final minute with what appears to be a concussion. Her long-term status is unclear.
Las Vegas now returns home to prepare for a much-anticipated inter-conference showdown with the two-time defending Lingerie Bowl Champion Los Angeles Temptation on November 11, while the Seattle Mist hope to atone for their sins on December 16 in Los Angeles against the same Temptation.
– Photos courtesy of Joe Petro, LFL National Director of Photography, Jim Wallingford and Bob Delfin, Official Photographers of the Seattle Mist–
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