If you can win the turnover battle in a football game, then your possession time, your control of the clock, and the number of chances you get to put points on the scoreboard can swing the game in your favor.
Which is what happened on Saturday night when the Pittsburgh Passion defeated the New York Sharks 26-12 at Cupples Stadium. The Passion’s unbeaten streak reached 10-0 and they became the Eastern Conference Champions of the the Independent Women’s Football League.
Pittsburgh head coach Teresa Conn’s defense has allowed just eight touchdowns over the regular and postseason. No one has been able to generate an extra point or two-point conversion against the Passion this season.
Alex McAtee, free safety for the Black and Gold, had back to back interceptions of Sharks quarterback Karen Mulligan in the first quarter. They were the first career interceptions of the postseason for McAtee. The second turnover led to a touchdown when quarterback Lisa Horton hit wide receiver Rachel Wojdowski with a 15-yard strike in the end zone.
Linebacker Olivia Griswold, who had six tackles, recovered Mulligan’s fumble in the second quarter which led to a 13-yard touchdown pass from Horton to Wojdowski, giving Pittsburgh a 19-6 lead going into halftime.
Cornerback Krissy Edmonds forced a fumble at the beginning of the third quarter that was recovered by Wojdowski, but it was her fourth interception this season in the fourth quarter that helped put the game away for Pittsburgh. The Greensburg, Pa., native led the squad with seven tackles on the night.
The Passion’s offense saw Horton complete 11 of 23 for 120 yards and two touchdowns to go along with 51 yards rushing. Wojdowski finished with five catches for 65 yards and two touchdowns while fellow wide receiver Angela Baker also hauled in five passes for 42 yards.
The ground game was led by running back Ciara Chic, who had 89 yards on 19 carries plus the first touchdown of the game. Fullback Kadesha Clark contributed the final touchdown for the Passion with a scoring run in the third quarter.
New York got on the scoreboard in the first half when wide receiver/defensive back Nhandi Brown returned a kickoff for 82 yards in the second quarter. The Sharks did not get on the scoreboard again til there was just 3:14 left to play when defensive back Deuce Reyes took a Baker fumble to the end zone.
With this win, the Black and Gold will meet the Western Conference champion Houston Energy in the World Championship at 7 p.m. Saturday, July 26 in Rock Hill, S.C. The Energy shut out the Madison Blaze 53-0 on Saturday to reach the championship game.