Pittsburgh Passion: Four Stars Of The Game In Win Over Toledo Reign


It was time to renew pride, commitment, and determination, as the Pittsburgh Passion took to the road to defeat the Toledo Reign 66-0, and open the season, beginning their defense of their 2014 Independent Women’s Football League Championship.

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Last season, the Black and Gold captured eight regular-season wins and swept the three-game playoffs to go 11-0 and brought home the IWFL World Championship. They defeated the Houston Energy 41-7 for the title in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

It was just the third time for the Passion and the Reign to meet on the gridiron, with Pittsburgh now a perfect 3-0 against Toledo. The last time they opened the season in the Buckeye State was in 2006 against the Cleveland Fusion.

Let’s go grab another cup of coffee as we take a look back at the players that helped the Passion to open the 2015 season on a winning note.

1) Quarterback Lisa Horton, my 2014 City of Champions Sports Person of the Year in Pittsburgh, picked up where she left off last season as she completed 7-of-8 for 139 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.

2) One of the team leaders on defense, lineman Octavia Griswold put up five tackles, one sack, and one fumble recovery on the night. The Toledo native also contributed a rushing touchdown in the first half.

3) I have a tie for the No. 3 spot as a pair of rookie running backs grabbed the spotlight. Tara Catone rushed three times for 62 yards and two touchdowns in her Passion debut. Her first two carries were for scores. Remy Olinzock also had three carries for 61 yards including a 55-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

4) There is a new name in the Passion record books as defensive back Krystal Cozzo returned a punt for a 35-yard touchdown at the end of the first half. She is the first Passion player in history to have an offensive, defensive and special teams touchdown over a career.

Offense Honorable Mentions: Running back Sarah Neidermeyer contributed 10 carries for 53 yards and her first career touchdown. Rachel Wojdowski, Angela Baker and Sharon Vasquez each had a receiving touchdown.

Defense Honorable Mentions: Linebacker Olivia Griswold led the way with six tackles and one sack while free safety Michelle Brevard-Peters had five stops against the Reign. Fellow linebacker Tia Montgomery put up three tackles and added one rushing touchdown for the offense.

Special Teams Honorable Mention: Placekicker Amy Fallon, who is in her sixth season with the Passion, went 4-for-4 in her point-after attempts.

It was a tough night for head coach Mitchi Collette’s squad at Don Paul Stadium at Hannon Field in Freemont, Ohio. The offense led by running backs Toya Shinaul, 2014 Toledo Coaches Award winner, and Brianna Patman, 2014 Toledo MVP, could not get on track. On the other side of the ball, linebacker Marabeth Lewis, 2014 Reign Defensive Player of the Year, and her teammates could not contain the fire power of Pittsburgh.

Up Next: The Passion are back on the South Side Saturday, April 19 as they host the Philadelphia Firebirds (1-0) at Cupples Stadium. The Firebirds shutout the Carolina Phoenix 20-0 last weekend in their home opener. Kick-off is set for 7 p.m.

The home opener will be ‎MS Awareness‬ Night. The ‪‎Passion‬ are participating in Pittsburgh’s 2015 ‎MS Walk‬ Sunday April 19 benefiting the ‪‎National MS Society‬.

From The Clipboard: Passion‬ co-owner and co-head coach, Teresa Conn, was honored Sunday with the Pittsburgh Legend Award from the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame. Former recipients of this honor include Mike Lange, Chuck Noll, Bill Fralic, Myron Cope, and Craig Wolfley.

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