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D.C. Divas trump Columbus Comets in playoff match

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Photo by Daniel Kucin Jr. Bowie native Ashley Whisonant runs past Tasha Lemke for a 36-yard touchdown in the D.C. Divas’ win over the Columbus Comets on Saturday.

Photo by Daniel Kucin Jr. Bowie native Ashley Whisonant runs past Tasha Lemke for a 36-yard touchdown in the D.C. Divas’ win over the Columbus Comets on Saturday.

Published on: Wednesday, June 26, 2013

By Daniel Kucin Jr.

It seemed fitting that Greenbelt native Allyson Hamlin grew up admiring Brett Favre. Her gunslinger style of play modeled from the Hall of Famer made the difference in the D.C. Divas winning the Eastern Quarterfinal Playoff match against the Columbus Comets 40-12 Saturday at the Prince George’s Sports and Learning Complex.

The Eleanor Roosevelt alumna led her team to victory by throwing four touchdowns, amassing 289 yards through the air, and rushing for a touchdown.

The Comets got on the board first. The Divas fumbled the opening kickoff, and Comets quarterback Crystal Davis threw a strike to Ayesha Jones for 42-yards on a two-play scoring drive, 6-0.

The Divas struck back on their second possession with a quarterback sneak by Hamlin through the heart of the defense to tie the game at 6-6.

One of Hamlin’s favorite targets was rookie wide receiver and Greenbelt native Juliette Baker Brice. Hamlin found Brice three times in the end zone, and she racked up 124 yards receiving to disembowel the Comets secondary.

Divas wide receiver Ashley Whisonant, of Bowie, was targeted all night, but that gave Price numerous opportunities to break free off single coverage, including a 65-yard dash to break the tie early in the second quarter, 13-6.

“My quarterback loved me today. She makes me look good,” Brice said. “We have so much more progress to make, but this game sets the tone for the rest of the playoffs and going to San Diego for the Super Bowl means we are on a one-track mind right now.”

Despite losing starting running back Kenyetta Grigsby to injury, the Divas had a balanced attack with a “rushing by committee” philosophy in Grigsby’s absence. The Divas rushed for 130 yards on the ground on just 32 attempts in the blowout.

Columbus running back Shelley Gates ranked fifth in the Women’s Football Alliance in rushing with more than 1,000 yards, but the Divas defense rose to the occasion.

Trigger McNair dominated the game. She helped stifle the Comets with 5.5 tackles and two interceptions.

Callie Brownson also made a huge impact with two tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Brownson will be traveling to Finland this week to compete in the IFAF Women’s World Championship as a representative of Team USA.

Hamlin shot a 36-yard touchdown pass to Whisonant, who put the Divas’ last score on the board in the fourth quarter. Whionant had six receptions for 89 yards.

“She is going to be something special, and she has a great attitude. And, I knew at one point she was going to have a huge game and she did,” Whisonant said about fellow receiver Brice. “She is an awesome receiver and athlete in general.”

The Divas made it to the postseason for the 10th time, which ranks second all-time in the Women’s Football Alliance. The Divas will go on to face the undefeated Boston Militia in the Conference Semifinals on July 13. 

This story was updated July 2, 2013, to correct the spelling of Juliette Baker Brice. The original version identified her as Juliette-Baker Price.

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