AUSTIN SETS THE TUNE IN WESTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP 32-30 WIN OVER LOS ANGELES
(CHICAGO, IL.) Two weeks prior to Kickoff of the Western Conference Championship, the No.1 seed Austin Acoustic felt very good about their chances of advancing to the franchise’s first-ever Legends Cup.
As news broke of the return of perhaps one of the most legendary Quarterback’s in LFL history, that Austin confidence faded somewhat. The headline coming into the Western Conference Championship was, ‘The Snake Comes Out of Hiding’, referencing Los Angeles Quarterback Ashley Salerno. Salerno missed the entire 2018 season due to off-the-field issues that have plagued Salerno and the Temptation throughout her career.
Nonetheless, Salerno’s return greatly improved Los Angeles hopes of returning to their first Legends Cup since 2012. On the other side, the Wildcard for Austin was also its signal-caller, Teshay Winfrey. The Quarterback with all the physical traits had yet to win a post-season game and has shown signs of immaturity as well as serious mental lapses, especially with turnovers inside the red-zone.
If you were an LFL analyst, you would give the edge to Los Angeles, despite being the first-ever losing record team that had ever advanced to post-season play.
If you did bet on Los Angeles, you would have been seriously wrong, at least early in the game. As Winfrey answered her critics with a pair of touchdown passes to Michelle Marshall and Maria Luzuriga. The Temptation could not get on the board until 2:56 remaining in the 2nd Quarter, when Salerno found Center Christina Sagarminaga on a 5-yard touchdown pass, to bring LA back into the game at 13-7.
The explosive Austin offense only needed 1:30 to respond to LA’s score, as Winfrey continued to be red-hot, this time connecting with Kassandra Bills on an 18-yard touchdown pass, extending Austin’s lead to 19-7. Right before the half, Austin elected to punt, but the ball sailed through the hands of Michelle Marshall, all Marshall could do was recover and step out of bounds, giving LA a Safety and 2 points.
At Halftime an odd score of 19-9 had Austin feeling good, considering Salerno looked very rusty after taking 6 months away from the game and an Austin offense that appeared to be clicking on all cylinders.
However, a prideful franchise like the Los Angeles Temptation typically does not roll-over, especially in the Playoffs.
In the 3rd Quarter, the Temptation out-scored the Acoustic 13-7 behind a pair of Salerno rushing touchdowns, as Los Angeles’ offense finally settled in.
Going into the final 10 Minutes of play for one of these two teams, it was anyone’s game at 26-22, with Austin holding a slight lead.
In the 4th Quarter, both teams exchanged touchdowns in a heavy-weight back and forth type battle. Kendria Robinson scored on a gutsy 1-yard run and Katrina Nicholson hauled in a 3-yard touchdown pass after dropping a sure touchdown in the 1st Quarter.
It would all come down to an onside kick after LA’s score drew the game to 32-30. However, as has been the case all-season in Los Angeles, head coach Tui Suiaunoa had to be reminded by the officiating crew that he could on-side kick. Then a sandlot type strategy followed with no pre-thought as LA created an onside strategy on-the-fly, which has been the coaching strategy all-season in LA. Of course, Los Angeles lined up incorrectly and perhaps the biggest story of the 2018 season, Leilani Lopez field a bullet-kick from LA’s Lily Granston, to preserve a 32-30 win.
The win sends the feel-good story of the 2018 season, the Austin Acoustic to Legends Cup 2018 where they will face the winner of the Eastern Conference Championship.
For the Los Angeles Temptation, they once again fall short of the Legends Cup, a game that the Silver & Black have not played in since 2012. Most believe head coach Tui Suiaunoa and his staff have coached their final game, as the league does not appear to have interest in renewing their contracts. Whoever is hired in Los Angeles, they will have to deal with a veteran base that lacks commitment. The upside being, there is a lot of talent that could make the turn with some discipline, guidance, and structure.
|Passing Yards (Net)||46||97|
|Total Offense Plays-Yards||36-136||41-152|