ZIEGLER-LESS STEAM SURVIVE EMBARRASSING NEAR-UPSET TO BLISS, WIN 30-25
(ATLANTA, GA – SUNDAY, JUNE 23) For the first time since 2012, the Chicago Bliss will not be in the LFL postseason.
Most predicted that in order for Chicago to beat Atlanta this season they would need a miracle. Well, a miracle of sorts was provided to them, as hall-of-famer Lauran Ziegler was scratched from Saturday’s contest due to an injury sustained pre-game.
With Ziegler out of the lineup, the shift in personnel and match-ups, as well as the last minute adjustments needed on Atlanta’s end, gave the Bliss help going into the game.
The first half, even without Atlanta’s top weapon Lauran Zielger, the Steam found themselves up 18-0 and in full control late in the second quarter. Dakota Hughes had connected with Jolie Efezokhae for a touchdown pass, the Steam Defense scored a safety, and Alfye Gore had found the endzone on a 5-yard touchdown run.
Not too long after finding themselves down by three scores, the Bliss stuck back quickly. Bliss quarterback Chaz Duson connected with running back Javell Thompson for a 23-yard touchdown pass with less than a minute to go in the first half.
Down 18-6 at the half, the Bliss had momentum and positives to build off of for the second half. Chicago was playing well on the defensive side of the ball and defending the Atlanta passing game greatly without Lauran Ziegler on offense for the Steam.
Quarterback Dakota Hughes was having a difficult time connecting with receivers and threw nine incomplete passes in the first half.
The Bliss came out strong in the second half and tied the game up at 18 apiece. Chicago’s first score of the half was after a long drive, which was followed up with an interception by Emma Vanderheyden, and the Bliss found themselves back in the endzone on the next play thanks to a 25-yard touchdown connection from Chaz Duson to Tamika Robinson.
The tied score didn’t last long, as the next play Keyon Harrison rushed for a 35-yard touchdown as Atlanta took a 24-18 lead.
The fourth quarter was one of the best fourth quarters of the season to watch. Edge of your seat entertainment that involved two long sustained drives that took up most of the final quarter.
The Bliss defense held the Steam from reaching the endzone on a ten play drive, which ended on a 4th-and-goal incomplete pass which took place from the Chicago 23-yard line thanks to a false start and personal foul, putting Atlanta’s offense in a tough situation.
Chicago answered with a long drive of their own, reaching the endzone with less than a minute to go in the game. Javell Thompson punched in a 1-point conversion to take the lead for the first time in the game.
With a 25-24 lead and less than a minute left, it looked like the Bliss would surprise everyone in the LFL, as they had Atlanta on the ropes.
Dakota Hughes was not about to let Chicago upset them and potentially knock them out of playoff contention. The next play Atlanta had taken back the lead after a 1st-and-10 touchdown pass from Dakota Hughes to Jolie Efezokhae. Atlanta failed to convert the extra point and only had a 3-25 lead, giving Chicago the ball back with over 30 seconds to go.
Chicago didn’t have what it took to execute and reach the endzone on their final drive, as they watched their season’s playoff hopes come to an end.
The 2019 Bliss will be remembered for their 0-3 start and the team that officially closed the chapter on the Bliss Dynasty that took place from 2013-2018.
The Chicago Bliss were 8-0 against the Atlanta Steam in the first eight games played between the two franchises, but now Steam has won 3 of the last 4 games between the two. The Bliss dominance is no longer such a thing in the LFL, but look for this franchise to finish this year on a high note against Nashville and rebuild going into 2020.
Atlanta (2-1) looks ahead to the Week 15 game against the Omaha Heart in a must-win to advance to the postseason. As the next few weeks unfold, that Week 15 game could easily be a make or break game for both teams and the winner advances to the 2019 playoffs in Ontario, CA.
|Passing Yards (Net)||117||76|
|Total Offense Plays-Yards||43-163||44-232|