OMAHA SHOWS HEART IN OPENER, EDGING DENVER 7-6
(DENVER, CO.) Two teams that had disappointing 2017 seasons begun the 2018 season as the lowest ranked amongst all LFL teams. Unexpectedly, played an epic and at times, a heroic game. If you love the fireworks of a typical LFL game with scores into the 40s and 50s, this was not going to be your kind of game. Neither team came into the 2018 season with an established franchise Quarterback. Omaha’s penciled-in franchise Quarterback was to be Alex Drake, but Drake suffered a season-ending knee injury in 2017, the rehab has carried into 2018 and thus converted defensive end Jaqueline Good moved under center. For Denver, 2017 starter Mary Towner who was inconsistent at best was also not in the most ideal physical shape, which limited Denver’s offensive scheme, enter the Britney Perea era. Defensively, these two teams were amongst the lowest rated defenses of 2017, Denver specifically, gave up nearly 400 points over 4 games.
Omaha being an established franchise, Denver would consider simply being competitive a win. For Omaha, the 2018 season could prove to be the franchise’s finale season, if the team does not greatly improve its product on-the-field.
Both offenses began the night with the hangover of the 2017 still lingering, Denver burdened with the worst LFL expansion franchise results in league history and for Omaha, once again failing to be competitive in the Eastern Conference.
Under new Quarterback Jacqueline Good, Omaha on its second possession engineered a 5 play 27 yard drive for the 1st half’s sole scoring drive when Good ran it in herself for a 3 yard touchdown. The Heart converted on the extra point to take a 7-0 lead into Halftime. Both defenses played beyond expectations in the 1st half, Denver limiting Omaha’s offense to only 56 yards and Denver’s offense only managing 38 yards. The bright-spots for both teams were its run-game, Lindsey Fields leading the way for Denver with a 4 yard per carry average and rookie Metal Vinson racking up an impressive 4.8 yard per carry.
Good managed the game well through one half of play, while she did not light up the scoreboard, she also avoided the big turnover. Denver’s Perea had the type of performance you would expect from a rookie / first-time starter, going 0-4.
In the 2nd half, both team’s intensity picked up quite a lot, especially Denver’s defense, which bent at times but never broke – not allowing a single 2nd half point. The play of middle-linebacker Breayea Quintana and safety Nicole Curry were nothing short of inspiring. In fact, the broadcast announcers said, “Despite whether Denver wins or losses, they have found a potential Superstar in Nicole Curry”, Curry took home Game MVP honors. Quintana played out of her mind on both sides of ball, prior to going down with one of the most gruesome injuries in LFL history.
Omaha’s defense started to show some cracks in the 2nd half or it could have been that Denver’s offense was finally settling in behind the running of Fields and the improvisational play of Perea. Often Perea’s pocket would collapse, forcing the young signal-caller to create yards when the opportunity was not there.
Perea and Denver rallied late, with a 5 play 48 yard scoring drive that was capped by Perea reaching pay-dirt from 3 yards out, coming to within one-point of making it a tied game. The dilema of going for the 1 point conversion or going for the win and the 2 point conversion, fell squarely on the shoulders of first-year head coach Adam Johnson and his staff. Johnson choose the safe-route and paid dearly for it, as veteran Omaha defensive end Lindsey Burse and rookie defensive end Shawna Wagner stuffed Denver’s heralded running back Liz Camack to hold on to its slim 7-6 lead.
The challenge now was for the first-year Heart quarterback Good, to simply run out the clock and provide Omaha the franchise’s first-ever 1-0 start to a season. Good delivered, but not because of great athletic play, but the argument can be made because of the bone-headed play-calling of Denver defensive coordinator, Marcus Junil. Good struggled all-game to show any semblance of a passing threat, yet routinely moved the sticks with a run game and at times, quarterback keepers. The obvious scheme for coordinator Junil and the Denver defense would have been to crowd the line scrimmage, spy Good and dare Good to beat them throwing the ball. On the game’s most important down, a 4th & 1 for the Omaha offense, instead focusing on the run, Junil chose to drop his defenders and focus on the pass, yielding the final and mostly costly first down to Good and the Omaha offense. The Heart simply ran out the clock and are now unbelievably tied for 1st place in the Eastern Conference with Nashville and Chicago.
Omaha next hosts the dangerous Nashville Knights on Saturday, July 7, at Ralston Arena.
The Dream will hit the road to Music City and face a major test against the Nashville Knights on Saturday, June 23rd at Nashville Auditorium.
|Passing Yards (Net)||21||0|
|Total Offense Plays-Yards||38-131||31-113|