ATLANTA HAS JUST ENOUGH STEAM IN 44-42 THRILLER OVER SEATTLE
(ATLANTA, GA.) Having only played one-game, the Atlanta Steam at 0-1 already found themselves in desperation mode heading into the Seattle Mist match-up. Desperation not because of their 0-1 record, but because the Nashville Knights and Chicago Bliss were both 2-0 and even the Omaha Heart sat at 1-0.
For the Seattle Mist despite their 0-1 mark, this roster surprised a lot of people as it contended with the Nashville Knights until the final minutes of the 4th quarter. Michelle Angel appears to have picked up where she left off in 2016, as the league’s top-ranked passer. The emergence of Jazmine Carter and Kiarra Williams, have added a punch to Seattle’s offensive-attack. The question remained around Seattle’s defense, statistically one of the worst defenses in the LFL.
As the doors opened and Atlanta’s largest crowd in team history piled into Infinite Energy Center, you could sense a special atmosphere, one of anticipation as long-time rival ChrisDell ‘The Ferrari’ Harris emerged through the curtain in Atlanta Steam warm-up gear. The looks on the faces of Steam fans were one of shock and awe as Harris has torched Atlanta in so many clashes between Steam and the Chicago Bliss, over the years. Harris missed the season-opener as she was not yet cleared by the team. But the time to wear and red and black was finally upon her, as Harris said in pre-game, “A new uniform. A new number. A new me”.
As the bright lights of ‘LFL Football Night’ came on and the game started, wearing No.16, Harris did not waste much time. Only two plays into the game, Harris proved why she is the LFL’s all-time leading rusher, breaking off a 27-yard touchdown run. Only The Ferrari knew there was still enough tread on her tires and plenty of gas in the tank, scoring two more 1st half touchdown on runs of 31 and 2 yards, respectively, en route to an LFL record, 123 first-half rushing yards.
Dakota Hughes would come into the game severely limited in her movement due to a groin injury, which led to an un-Dakota-like-performance of 0-5 in the 1st half. Atlanta did not need the Cardiac Kid, or at least not until the 2nd half, as the Steam’s run-game continued its dominance with two more touchdowns on the ground, this time from an unsuspecting figure, Alfye Gore who scored on touchdown runs of 4 and 2 yards.
For Seattle, a team that has pretty much abandoned the run, Michelle Angel and Misty Gonzales kept the Mist in the game, in the 1st half. Angel finding Gonzales on a pair of tight end release plays, both resulting in touchdowns of 10 and 14 yards. Gonzales much like Atlanta’s Gore, was an unlikely hero as Gonzales has routinely struggled to even be activated to the roster, most of her LFL career.
Going into Halftime, Atlanta was on a literal roll with the play of Harris and a commanding 36-14 lead.
Inside the locker-rooms, the mood for Seattle surprisingly was one of encouragement and confidence, not despair. The Mist knew they had an offense that could easily rally, the question has been the subpar defense. Can they get much-needed stops in the 2nd half?
The Mist defense, RESPONDED in the 2nd half, allowing a potent Atlanta offense a mere 8 points in 20 minutes of play, after giving up 36 in the first 20 minutes of play. That was the spark Angel and the Seattle offense needed, as they shred Atlanta’s defense with (4) second-half touchdown passes to four different targets in Ashley Baker-Tatum, Lozen Romo, Jazmine carter and Kiara Williams.
Atlanta’s offense was hobbled by a noticeably injured Hughes who was limping in and out of the pocket and even The Ferrari could only manage a very-human, 65 second 2nd half yards.
In the final minutes, two of the league’s best young Quarterbacks guided their teams to what they thought would be game-winning touchdown drives, only to see the other Quarterback respond.
Angel who is having a League MVP season, orchestrated the final drive with only 0:37 seconds remaining, finding Williams with an 8-yard touchdown pass to draw to within a 2 point conversion of overtime. The 2 point conversion was good but called back because of a critical holding call on Mist center, Nicole Petersen, that negated the conversion, which would have tied the game.
It would come down to an onside kick, which Kiara Williams put a little too much on and recovered by Atlanta’s Jessica Salazar, keeping the Steam’s Playoff hopes alive at 1-1.
Seattle now 0-2, travels to Austin, Texas to battle the red-hot Austin Acoustic at H-E-B Center on Saturday, July 21st, a game that could very well determine the No.2 seed in the Western Conference Championship game.
The 1-1 Atlanta Steam face their long-time rival Chicago Bliss at Infinite Energy Center on Saturday, July 14, also a game that more than likely will determine the No.2 seed in the Eastern Conference Championship game.
|Passing Yards (Net)||131||2|
|Total Offense Plays-Yards||41-200||40-274|