By Larry Snyder
Imperial, Pa. – The impact of the stunning finish hung in the air at Joe P. DeMichela Stadium as the Pittsburgh Passion lost 26-21 on a last second touchdown Saturday, May 18, to the DC Divas. It was the 20th meeting between the enduring rivals and the Black and Gold’s final home contest of the regular season in the Women’s Football Alliance.
With 16 seconds left, Divas quarterback Amanda Congialdi stepped up in the pocket and rolled out to her right under pressure from the Passion defense. She came back across the field, going from hash mark to hash mark, and threw a pass just before getting hit to wide receiver Kentrina Wilson for a 66-yard walk-off touchdown to claim the victory.
Before the Burgundy, Gold, and White’s score, Pittsburgh’s Diamond Rodriguez took Ashley Clark’s punt to the 43-yard line of DC with 48 seconds left. Passion quarterback Angela Baker picked up the first down with a run to the 32-yard line. After a holding penalty, the Women of Steel were on the 22-yard line with just 22 seconds remaining.
Baker brought the fans out of their seats and onto their feet when she hit third-year running back Devon Conner near the goal line for a 22-yard touchdown to tie the matchup at 20-20. Rookie linebacker and kicker Franki Kilmer delivered the go-ahead extra point. Special teams provided critical plays all night as Kilmer made all three of her point-after attempts.
Connor collected her first six points at 4:23 in the second frame when she hauled in a quick pass from Baker, averted a couple of tackles, and went 59 yards. Ellie Mularski helped the aerial attack with 44 receiving yards on four receptions while Krystal Cozzo added 48 yards on three catches. The next touchdown for the Passion came at 5:09 in the fourth when Baker scored on a 4-yard run. She ended the match with 53 yards rushing.
Head Coach Teresa Conn’s tough defense kept the Women of the Beltway off the scoreboard in the first, establishing the second longest streak in team history by not permitting a point for 13 consecutive quarters. The genuine efforts of Hannah Damon, Kim Zubovic, Amand Coles, Chance Willis, Julie Ionta, Kaitlain Niedermeyer, Rebecca Ehrgood, Tenisha Spencer, Cozzo, and Rodriquez allowed the Black and Gold to stay close on the score sheet and battle throughout the evening.
Daman, Rodriquez, and Ehrgood combined for 21 tackles against the Divas. Ehrgood also contributed a pair of pass deflections while Willis and Coles each provided a fumble recovery.
We could be seeing a possible playoff preview when the Black and Gold go to Michigan Saturday, May 25, and clash with the unbeaten Detroit Dark Angels at Southfield Lathrup High School (MacArthur K-8 University Academy) in Lathrup Village. The Women of Motown are perfect at 5-0 with 185 total points put up on offense and a pair of shutouts recorded by the defense.
Detroit head coach Keith Thomas and offensive coordinator Joel Snyder turn to Maggie Hudkins at quarterback and running back Tatyhana Pauling to keep the Dark Angels at the top of the box score. Hudkins owns six touchdowns through the air and has rushed for five while Pauling has 857 yards on 42 carries and 10 trips to the end zone.
Kaci Cunningham and Sarah Kircos each have a pair of receiving touchdowns. The Black, Crimson, and White’s last win was a 45-7 triumph on the road Saturday, May 18, against the Capital City Savages (2-4) in Perry, MI.
The Passion offensive line of Sam Simeone, Morgan Cross, Erica Shoecraft, Zubovic, and Niedermeyer will have to deal with linebackers Diana Lenaway and Ashley Andrews along with defensive end Mikayla Hilton. Lenaway leads the Women of the Motor City with 44 tackles. Hilton has got to opposing signal callers for five and a half sacks and is second with 37 stops. Andrews is third in tackles with 35.5 and tied with Allison Loyst and Crystal Krepp at three sacks apiece.
My Prediction: I think the Black and Gold arrives in the Great Lakes State and puts the first blemish on Detroit’s record with a 27-20 win. The Pittsburgh defense is getting better and will test the Dark Angels offense.
Other Voices: Coming into the Memorial Day weekend, the gridiron gang at Massey Ratings logs the Dark Angels at No. 5 and grades the Passion at No. 7 in their rankings. Their prognosis for this matchup is a low-scoring contest with the Purple, Silver, Black, and Green collecting an 18-14 victory.
Next Up: Pittsburgh wraps up the season on the road in the Buckeye State Saturday, June 1, when they confront the Toledo Reign (3-2) at Scott High School, 2400 Collingwood Boulevard. You can track all the touchdowns on the Passion Twitter page (@pghpassionFB) or the ScoreStream App.
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