SEATTLE AVOIDS TEMPTATION, OPENS SEASON WITH A 34-19 ROAD WIN
The LFL season began with opening ceremonies in Ontario, California on April 5th – reflecting on the past ten years of incredible accomplishments – which have led to yet another season with action-packed football, now underway.
It was a trip down memory lane for many local LA fans, as future Hall of Fame and former LA coaches David Bizub and Tui Suiaunoa took part in the big night. The duo was instrumental to the Temptation’s early success of Championship history. In fact, David Bizub has arguably the best coaching resume with his 6-1 all-time playoff record and three Legends Cup Championships.
The Seattle Mist and the LA Temptation are the league’s top rivals with rich history dating back to 2009. Nearly every game between the two is decided in the final quarter of play and often determined with seconds on the score clock.
Friday marked the thirteenth contest between the Mist and their archrival Temptation. Lately, Seattle has owned all bragging rights and that position didn’t stay temporarily, as Seattle has now won each of the last six games including two Western Conference Championships (2015, 2017). With the quality of play and talent on both teams, few would argue against the possibility of a rematch in this year’s 2019 Western Conference Championship.
On paper, this matchup looked like an All-Fantasy game, especially when fans saw Seattle’s offense consisting of five all-time greats – KK Matheny, Jade Randle, Alli Alberts, Stevi Schnoor, and Dominique Malloy. Interestingly to add, out of those five all-stars, only running back Stevi Schnoor started her LFL career with the Mist, while Matheny began in 2010 with Tampa, Alberts in 2013 with Chicago, Malloy in 2015 with Vegas, and Randle in 2016 with Dallas.
LA also had their own concoction of veteran talent offensively with QB Ashley Salerno, RB Nas Johnson, Anne Erler playing WR, Hallie Jiskra & Sherri Awagah playing the tight end positions.
Playing for her new team in Seattle, Alli Alberts put the first points on the board Friday night, with a 2-yard run capping The Mist’s first possession with 5:45 on the clock in the first quarter. Following up the touchdown, was a converted 1pt conversation on a Kiara Williams run, putting Seattle up 7-0.
The ball was quickly back in KK Matheny’s hands after LA went four-and-out on four straight run plays. Seattle All-Fantasy safeties Alli Alberts and Jade Randle lined up five to six yards from the line of scrimmage, a display of confidence that LA receivers wouldn’t be a deep threat to their secondary.
Seattle took over at LA’s 20-yard line. Matheny connected with Alberts for seven yards on second down, followed up with a 10-yard connection to Stevi Schnoor on 3rd & 3 to being stopped just short of scoring.
On 1st & Goal from the 3-yard line, it was evident Seattle Head Coach Chris Michaelson had worked on goal line schemes during his semi-retirement in 2018.
With a bunch formation and quarterback KK Matheny on the sidelines, Schnoor lined up in a wildcat position, took the shotgun snap, headed up the A gap with a head of steam for an easy touchdown. The athleticism, speed, and strength of the Seattle front was no match for LA’s defense. It was evident HOF linebacker Monique Gaxiola wasn’t the dominant force of past years in the middle, as she was heaved out of sight by Mist center Katie Whelan, providing a running lane you could drive a truck through.
The 1pt conversion was again successful thanks to a Williams run, stretching the Mist lead to 14-0.
LA’s early deficit was a sign of their struggle up front against the run and an out-of-place secondary. Seattle took advantage of LA’s safety Marissa Lopez who was lining up nearly fifteen yards behind the line of scrimmage, which in the 7-on-7 game of football provides huge comfort for the opposing teams running game and short passing routes.
Next, it was LA’s time to find the endzone. On 2nd & 7, Salerno found tight-end Hallie Jiskra wide open as she burned past the former league MVP, Jade Randle, for a 32-yard touchdown completion. This play provided respect for LA’s passing threat, which was needed for the Temptation to get their run game going.
The extra point attempt was another first time passing connection for Ashley Salerno, as she found Anne Erler on a heads up shuffle pass – nearly a jump shot attempt of a throw – for the completion to cut the lead to 14-7.
In the second quarter Seattle found themselves with a 20-point lead after back-to-back scoring possessions- on a Kera Williams 4-yard touchdown run and an Alli Alberts 12-yard touchdown reception from quarterback KK Matheny.
Down 27-7 with just over four minutes remaining in the half, The Temptation offense put together a drive they desperately needed.
On 4th & 8 at their own 17-yard line, Salerno connected with Nas Johnson for a big gainer bringing the Temptation to the Seattle 16-yard line. A few plays later on 2nd & goal to go, Salerno connected again with her new favorite target – Hallie Jiskra – for a touchdown, bringing the score to 27-13. Extra point attempt was no good.
Seattle’s next possession consisted of a couple incomplete pass attempts and excellent pressure from the LA defense. Matheny was hurried and hit three times during the possession which ended the half with no time on the clock on a 3rd &10.
At the half, it was evident Seattle’s offensive prowess outmatched the LA defense and their shaky secondary.
Neither team found the endzone in the 3rd quarter of play, as both teams seemed to make necessary adjustments defensively.
Beginning the 4th quarter, Salerno was able to lead the LA offense down the field on a sustained drive they needed to cut the lead quickly, taking little of precious time off the clock.
Burning only two minutes of the play clock, the drive was capped when Salerno found Sherri Awagah on an 18-yard touchdown completion to finish the drive. Another failed extra point try left the score at 27-19 in Seattle’s favor.
The eight-point difference didn’t stand long as Seattle scored quickly after a pair of Stevi Schnoor runs and a Matheny-to-Alberts Touchdown completion. After a successful extra point attempt, Seattle had a commanding 34-19 lead with six minutes to go in the game, still enough time for LA to put together a comeback.
On 3rd & 7 from their own 18-yard line, Ashley Salerno found Nas Johnson on a play action pass for a needed 17-yard gain. LA took a timeout with 4:55 remaining in the fourth with their 1st & 10 coming up from the Seattle 17-yard line.
After two incomplete passes, one where Salerno missed a wide-open Melissa Miles in the endzone on an underthrown pass, and another attempt with tremendous pressure from the Mist front, LA was staring at 3rd & 10.
A well-executed pass from Salerno to Danielle Harvey brought the Temptation to the 9-yard line with less than 2:30 to play in the game.
Needing to score quickly to secure time on the clock for another opportunity, Salerno made her biggest mistake of the game. The first and only interception of the night happened on the 1st & Goal for LA, as the LA Gunslinger made a quick, poor-effort throw to the right side of the field between two different receivers, completely out of reach and right into the hands of Seattle’s Kierra Williams who returned the interception past midfield.
The turnover allowed Seattle to run the clock out and seal the week 1 victory.
KK Matheny finished the game completing 10-of-16 passes for 96 yards and two touchdowns, zero interceptions. Alli Alberts was on the receiving end of both scores and also ran the first score of the night in for the Mist for a total of three touchdowns. Jade Randle did not catch a pass in Friday’s game and was rarely a target for Matheny.
LA’s Ashley Salerno was not as efficient as Matheny posting numbers: 9-of-24 completed for 111 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. Sherri Awagah caught one TD pass and Hallie Jiskra hauled in the other two.
Leading the tackling in the game was Jade Randle with 9.5 total tackles for Seattle (8 solo) and Marissa Lopez and TJ Anderson both racked up 4 tackles each.
LA will need to regroup quickly for their week 3 game against the improving Denver Dream franchise, as they head into the Mile High City Friday night, April 26th. The Temptation are seeking a 1-1 record to get to .500 and push for a playoff spot, as their schedule is an uphill climb with Atlanta and Austin to finish out their four-game season.
The 1-0 Seattle Mist will gear up for their home opener against the Omaha Heart on Saturday, May 11th. Fully expect to see KK Matheny target Jade Randle more in this game, as the rumblings are already taking place about whether Randle is frustrated with her lessened role in the offense. The Heart have a vastly changed franchise for 2019 and all LFL fans are awaiting what the new dynamic & personnel have in store for Omaha’s season.
|Passing Yards (Net)||96||111|
|Total Offense Plays-Yards||35-179||41-155|