D.C. Divas shut out the Atlanta Phoenix in WFA playoffs

  • Written by  José Umaña, Photo by Chris Thompkins
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LANDOVER – Running back D’Ajah Scott is not used to being behind the quarterback in the single back formation. Typically she is a different formation the majority of the time in the backfield.

However, after scoring three touchdowns in the first half for her team, the D.C. Divas held a substantial lead, and it was time to experiment with new plays.

With ten minutes left in the third quarter, Scott received a handoff and followed her blocks with precision through a hole towards the right sideline for the first ten yards of the scamper.

With would-be tacklers in front of her, Scott quickly changed course, scampering to her left, where her Diva teammates made two more blocks. All that was left was open field for a 41-yard touchdown.

“I trust my o-line point-blank,” Scott said. “And I pretty much had to do my thing, especially with an open run.”

As she headed to the sidelines, the PA announcer confirmed that Scott had run for 250 yards on nine carries. The running back sat on the bench, signaling she had done enough damage for one day.

Meanwhile, the rest of her teammates showed no mercy as the No. 1 D.C. Divas scored eight touchdowns to crush fourth-seeded Atlanta 56-0 in the quarterfinals of the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA) National Championship Playoffs at Prince George’s Sports and Learning Complex on June 30.

Spirits were running high for the Divas (7-2) after finishing the regular season on a five-game win streak, outscoring their opponents 178-66. Meanwhile, Atlanta (6-2) was also on a five-game winning streak including a 56-8 win over the South Carolina Smash in their regular season finale on June 9.

Divas quarterback Amanda Congialdi, who finished the regular season with an 83.3 passer rating and 14 passing touchdowns, struggled to find a throwing rhythm in the first half. However, as the passing game experienced early struggles, Scott exploded, scoring the game’s first three touchdowns and accumulated 194 rushing yards with only seven carries.

Scott, who ran for a team-high 375 yards during the regular season, received a lot of help from the Divas offensive line, which created the running lanes to allow the six-year veteran to run through. The Oxon Hill High School alumni thanked each member of the line individually for their hard work in the victory.

“The reps we do in practice (helps),” Scott said. “They do their own practice reps, and we do ours. When we get together, the o-line and running back package, it is smooth, and we can just run straight through.”

As the lead grew, the Divas’ offense continued to bust through the Atlanta defense. Congialdi was able to use her legs to score a one-yard run for a touchdown while twelve-year veteran Okiima Trotter added more points with her own seven-yard touchdown run.

After a fumble recovery, Congialdi found two-way star Kentrina Wilson in the end zone for a seven-yard touchdown pass with 35 seconds before halftime.

Meanwhile, the defense arrived with a chip on their shoulders after engaging in pregame trash-talking with several Atlanta players on social media, according to linebacker Tia Watkins.

The Divas attacked the offensive line with ease, making the Phoenix’s run game, ranked fourth in the WFA, non-existent. The pressure reached by Washington’s front seven kept Atlanta away from the red zone the whole game.

Despite holding a significant lead, the Divas did not let up defensively in the second half, sacking all three quarterbacks used by Atlanta six times. As the clock winded down in the fourth quarter, on a third-down situation, Watkins passed through the offensive line untouched, sacking Kristian London for a five-yard loss to preserve their second shutout victory.

“We were throwing them off with (our defensive shape) on their snap, and they got scared, so that means we are doing our jobs,” Watkins said. “And when third and fourth down came, we were like a shark smelling blood in the water, and we went for it every time.”

With the win, the Divas will host the Eastern Conference Championship game against rivals Boston Renegades on July 14. Each team won their divisional home game. The Divas aim to win their third WFA title in four years, a task that can be fulfilled if D.C. is clicking at the right time in all positions, Watkins said.

“We need to strengthen our pass game, including pass blocking, a little more and we will take the cake from there,” Scott said.

Last modified onTuesday, 03 July 2018 15:03
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