Game recap by Laura Walton
Garnering all the attention of a heavyweight fight, this weekend’s matchup between the Dallas Diamonds and the Atlanta Xplosion was a battle of the undefeated.
Atlanta, 3-0, with wins against the Locomotion, Energy and Fox had only given up 13 points. Dallas, also 3-0, posted shutouts against the Energy, Fuel and Aftershock. One team would continue on a winning streak, while the other would have to regroup and rethink their playoff hopes.
The Diamonds took the opening kickoff and though they held onto the ball for several first downs, they failed to make it into the rezone and score on their opening drive. Atlanta breathed a sigh of relief as their defense held, but only for a few more plays. As expected the dominating Dallas defense delivered punishment after punishment to the Xplosion. Once the Diamonds knew they had the firepower to hold the Atlanta offense it was only a matter of time finding the right one-two punch to score.
Two plays into the second series for the Diamond’s, Odessa Jenkins, #3 started her own birthday celebration with a 50 yard TD run, putting the Diamonds on the scoreboard. Emily Tidwell, #80 added the extra point to make it 7-0. After a fumble recovery by Ann Richardson #98, the icing on the cake soon followed with Jenkins second score of the night on a 12 yard TD run. The Diamonds extended their count to 14-0 after Tidwell’s kick.
Fans in purple and white, who had traveled all the way to Atlanta, cheered on their Diamonds, and at one point nearly drowned out the Atlanta audio broadcast chanting “Defense!, Defense!”
Danilynn Welniak, #89, who had been looking forward to this game all season, anticipated the opportunity to deliver her own uppercut. Last year, 4 games into the season, she was injured during a home game against the same Atlanta team. She was sidelined with a broken leg. Proving she is Diamond tough, she returned to shine in the playoffs and help Dallas defeat the Chicago Force in the 2008 IWFL Championship. Sweet revenge would be hers when just before the end of the 1st Quarter, after an Atlanta punt miscue, Danilynn hauled in a pass from QB, #14 Monica Foster to put the Diamonds up 20-0.. Dallas attempted the 2 pt conversion and comes up short. As the game moved to the second Quarter, Dallas remained up by 20.
Defense’s traded blows holding each other’s offense scoreless to the half. When play resumed in the 3rd Quarter, Atlanta found the endzone on a kickoff return. Special teams had gotten them on the board. Dallas 20-Atlanta 7. It would be their one and only score as Dallas’ defense held firm.
Rookie, #15, Tiffany Bunton had another stellar game and joined defensive veterans Ann Richardson #98, KB Bowman #56, Ingrid “Tiny” Mitchell #90 and Julie “Brick” Parton #74 in terrorizing the Xplosion QB all night. Secondary would night be outdone with unbelievable hits from Jen Welter #40, K Spain #57, and solid tackles by Lindsey Clark #23, and Tracie Williams #38. Jennifer Ferrell, #21 grabbed an interception further frustrating the Xplosion.
Both teams felt the humidity and the heat of the night as several players left the field with cramps and the Diamonds star Kicker, Emily Tidwell was forced to sit out the second half. Fullback Rachel May, #82 stepped up to handle kickoffs and didn’t miss a beat.
Atlanta somehow found a way to neutralize Jessica Springer, #46 for most of the game but it didn’t seem to change the outcome. The Champions adjusted and used their deep talent, spreading the ball the open backs and receivers. In a final jab, Springer added her own TD powering up the field in a 70 plus yard TD. Diamonds up 26-7.
QB Monica Foster took it behind her O-line push for the last TD of the night making it a final score of 32-7. The Xplosion tried several times to get their offense rolling but could not find a way to get past the stone wall of the Diamond’s defensive unit. When the dust settled from this heavyweight bout, the Champions retained the title belt and shook off all doubts they were still the top team to beat in the South Atlantic Division. The Diamonds remain undefeated at 4-0 and will use the scheduled week 5 bye to prepare for the next leg of the season.
May 16, the Diamonds return to their home field of Pennington Field to take on the Louisiana Fuel. Check out the replay of Dallas Diamond games at www.dallasimedia.net throughout the week.
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photo Dan Vernon
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photo Dan Vernon