After winning the coin toss to begin the evening Saturday, the Pittsburgh Passion scored on the first play of their opening possession as they cruised past the Carolina Phoenix 41-6 at Cupples Stadium.
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The Black and Gold remain strong and united. They are 4-0 in the Independent Womens Football League and 5-0 overall at the half-way point of the 2015 campaign.
Teresa Conn’s crew are in first place in the IWFL‘s Mid-Atlantic Division as they defend their 2014 World Championship.
Let’s grab a warm cup of java, and look back at the four stars of the game that helped to keep the team perfect for another week.
1) Veteran signal caller Lisa Horton completed 9-of-16 for 180 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. Her first touchdown of the contest went to Sharon Vasquez on the opening play of the game. It was Horton’s 150th touchdown of her career.
Looking back over Horton’s accomplishments, her first touchdown was to Sherry Kring in 2003 and her 50th went to Janice Nissel in 2007. The Middleburg Heights, Ohio, native threw her 100th touchdown pass to Amanda Haeg in 2013. This season, she is leading the league with 17 touchdown passes.
2) Offensive coordinator Adam Santora had plenty to smile about from his ground game. Rookie running back Tara Catone racked up 97-yards and a touchdown on just eight carries against Carolina. Her longest run was 69 yards. She is the second leading rusher in the IWFL and her 577-yards is the rookie single season record for the Passion with four more regular-season games on the schedule.
I asked Catone after the game about her success and she said, “I couldn’t do it without my O-line (Shelby Horak, Kaitlin Neidermeyer, Lauren Ferragonio, Veronica Buress, Kate Sullivan). They have been really outstanding the last couple of games and helped me get all of those yards.”
3) Wide receiver Rachel Wojdowski caught four passes for 74-yards and three touchdowns. She leads the IWFL with 316 receiving yards and seven touchdowns.
4) Defensive coordinator Janice Masters got another impressive performance from her unit. One of the many who got the job done was rookie defensive back Jillian Croce, who contributed two interceptions and led the way with seven tackles.
Offense Honorable Mentions: Sharon Vasquez caught three passes for 100-yards and one touchdown. It was the first 100-yard receiving game of her career. Tia Montgomery added 14-yards rushing and a touchdown on eight carries.
Defense Honorable Mentions: Fourth-year defensive end Jessica Nelko and rookie free safety Kim Beaver each put up six tackles against the Phoenix. Beaver also came through with an 18-yard punt return on the score sheet.
Special Teams Honorable Mentions: Placekicker Amy Fallon, who is in her sixth season, went 5-for-5 in her point after attempts. The Jefferson Hills, Pa., native is 18 of 19 on her PATs which is good for second in the league. Angela Baker contributed a 21-yard kick-off return.
For Carolina, running back Hannah DeGraffenreed added the team’s only touchdown late in the second quarter to avoid the shutout. A pair of Phoenix linebackers contributed an interception each on the night. Nikki Herron picked off a pass from Horton in the second quarter and Kelly Scott hauled in rookie quarterback Paige Carkuff’s throw in the fourth quarter.
Up Next: After a bye week, the Passion pack their bags and hit the road Saturday, May 30 for a rematch with the Sharks in New York at 6 p.m. Pittsburgh captured the first match-up this season 32-18 on Saturday, May 9 on the South Side. The 18 points by the Sharks is the most points permitted by the Black and Gold defense so far this season in a single contest.
From The Clipboard: Pittsburgh’s offense has generated 194 points in four league contests…Olivia Griswold put up three tackles and one sack against Carolina. It was the 25th sack of her career and she is the Passion’s all-time leader in that category…It was a busy night for rookie Remy Olinzock. The Star Junction, Pa., native had 27-yards rushing on five carries, one pass reception, and three tackles on defense.