DESPITE UGLY PERFORMANCE BY AUSTIN QUARTERBACK MICHELLE ANGEL, ACOUSTIC HANDLE BLISS 38-8
Taking a look at the Acoustic roster heading into this season, areas of concern were the defensive secondary, wide receiver depth, and offensive line questions. With the signing of 2018’s League MVP Michelle Angel, there was hardly any concern with the quarterback position especially given the fact former Acoustic quarterback, now receiver Teshay Winfrey is still with the team. Despite this quarterback certainty, the first three-quarters of play on Saturday night was awful for Michelle Angel.
A Chicago Bliss team in a complete rebuild mode, testing out different quarterbacks, and zero evidence of team cohesion offensively, were leading the Acoustic by a score of 8-6 with 1:44 left to play in the first half. At this point, Michelle Angel had only completed one pass and had thrown two interceptions to the Chicago defense.
Like all Greats have the ability to do, Angel brushed off the lousy performance thus far and continued to compete. With less than a minute to go in the half, Angel connected with Teshay Winfrey for a 12-yard touchdown pass to take a 12-8 lead.
On the next series, third-string Bliss quarterback Sharquayla Baker threw a second interception of her own deep down the field to Austin’s Rachel Washington.
It didn’t take long for Austin to find the endzone again before the half, after two big rushes from the ‘Ferrari’ ChrisDell Harris. After an incomplete pass on the extra point conversion, Austin went into the half with an 18-8 lead.
At the half, Chicago’s running back Javell Thompson had only gained a net of six yards on five rushes for a 1-yard average. After only averaging 2.6 yards-per-carry in the Atlanta game Week 2, Thompson has clearly shown signs of decline in 2019 through three halves of football.
On the other side of the field, ChrisDell Harris averaged 14.2 yards-per-carry in the first half with 85 yards and 1 TD. The Ferrari’s debut in Austin was off to a great start.
Before heading into the locker room before halftime, Michelle Angel told sideline reporter Heidi Golznig “On the plus side, it can’t get any worse” when asked about her tough start. Angel also thanked her defense for “keeping the game in control” and noted running back Harris was “carrying the offense”.
However, Angel continued to struggle in the third quarter, as Chicago’s defense gave her trouble with continued pressure and tight coverage in the secondary. Neither team accomplished anything offensively in the third quarter of play as the score remained 18-8 going into the final quarter.
The fourth quarter was all Austin as ChrisDell Harris continued to dominate on the ground. Michelle Angel also found her groove as she completed nearly all of her passes in the fourth and connected for another two touchdown passes- one to Teshay Winfrey and the other to Chasity Morales on the games final play.
Up 32-8 with less than 30 seconds to go in the game, Austin continued to keep their starters in the game. With the expected tight race in the Western Conference this season, teams cannot be satisfied with wins. With tie-breakers being determined by point differential, teams need to score as many times as possible to ensure they are not the team left out of the postseason.
After the Angel to Morales TD connection at the end of the game, the final score was 38-8 as Austin took their first game of the season in front of their home crowd.
Just over 8 months ago that same crowd witnessed Chicago defeat Austin in the 2018 Legends Cup, after the Acoustic made a second-half attempt at a comeback, but fell short. The tables have clearly turned in 2019 and Austin looks to be one of the top two or three teams in the league this season.
The game’s MVP was ChrisDell ‘Ferrari’ Harris after rushing for 133 yards and scoring 2 touchdowns and averaging an astonishing 11.1 yards-per-carry on the evening. Harris is off to a phenomenal start with a team she’ll have a great opportunity to win another Legends Cup with. The Kansas native Harris also noted after the game- about the Acoustic being “the funnest program I’ve played in” after spending nearly a decade with the Chicago Bliss under Keith Hac and a season with the Atlanta Steam.
As Chicago appears to be on track for a potential winless season, there are some bright areas for this rebuilding franchise. Rookie Emma Vanderheyden stepped up defensively and helped get pressure on Michelle Angel as well as finding herself an interception in the game. Also defensively for the Bliss, the new face Veronica Smith finished the night with six solo tackles. Second-year Bliss player Terra Organisciak played strong on the defensive front totaling 3 tackles and 2 for a loss (1.5 sacks), as Organisciak helped pursue quarterback Michelle Angel with pressure all game.
Chicago (0-2) will regroup and prepare for a road game and rematch against the Atlanta Steam taking place June 15th in Atlanta.
The Acoustic (1-0) have over seven weeks to prepare for the biggest test of the regular season when they head into Seattle June 29th to play the Mist on the road. That game is slated to be the 10th Anniversary Season’s game-of-the-year.
|Passing Yards (Net)||15||69|
|Total Offense Plays-Yards||40-54||40-225|