The will to persevere has brought these two squads to this evening. The Pittsburgh Passion (10-0), the Eastern Conference Champions of the Independent Women’s Football League, will battle the Western Conference winners, the Utah Falconz (7-0).
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The two unbeaten teams will engage on the gridiron at 7:00 p.m. ET at District 3 Stadium on Cherry Street in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Pittsburgh is seeking their second consecutive title, and their third championship since 2007. For Utah, it is the first title run in just their second season of existence.
Teresa Conn’s crew got through two hard fought playoff games to get to Rock Hill. The Passion were victorious over long-time rivals, the New York Sharks 35-28, and the Carolina Phoenix 41-12.
Pittsburgh assembled a 7-0 record during the IWFL regular season, and 8-0 overall. They defeated the Columbus Comets of the Women’s Football Alliance 35-8 on Saturday, May 2 in their one non-league contest.
The Passion, under offensive coordinator Adam Santoro, assaulted the scoreboard for a total of 327 points in the regular season. Defensive coordinator Janice Masters’ unit surrendered 46 points and claimed three shutouts over the regular season.
Pittsburgh quarterback Lisa Horton threw for one touchdown, and ran one for one score against Carolina in the Eastern Conference tilt. She completed 69 of 109, and threw 24 touchdowns during the regular season.
Her favorite targets for this season have been wide receivers Rachel Wojdowski with 11 touchdowns, Sharon Vasquez with seven touchdowns, and Angela Baker for five scores.
Rookie running back Tara Catone claimed 173 yards on just 11 carries and three touchdowns against the Phoenix. The Slippery Rock University product became the Passion’s first rookie to collect three touchdowns in the first half of a playoff contest.
The Passion’s offensive line has been remarkable all season long. Center Shelby Horak; guards Kaitlin Neidermeyer and Lauren Ferragonio; and tackles Veronica Buress and Kate Sullivan have won the battle in the trenches.
Linebacker Olivia Griswold led proud Passion defense with 34 tackles, and 4.5 sacks. Defensive end Jessica Nelko recorded 31 tackles and 3.5 sacks for the season while linebacker Tia Montgomery put up 29 tackles.
Griswold and Nelko tied with defensive lineman Melanie Hammond in making the most of their opportunities with two fumble recoveries apiece.
There have been first-year contributors on defense. Rookie free safety Kim Beaver is tied with fellow rookie defensive back Jillian Croce with three interceptions.
Amy Fallon continued to be a force on special teams. The kicker from Washington and Jefferson College was good for 35 out of 37 extra point attempts during the regular season. She also averaged 46-yards on her three punt attempts.
There are 38 Passion players who also played on the championship team from a year ago. There are nine players and four coaches still with the team from their title run back in 2007.
The Utah Falconz, led by head coach Rick Rasmussen, shut out all three of their play-off opponents, the Rocky Mountain Thunder Katz, Sacramento Sirens, and Madison Blaze. The combined score of all three contests was 197-0. During their four regular season contests, they rolled up 267 points.
Offensive coordinator Kyle Rasmussen rotates his running backs for maximum efficiency. Keeshay Cox led the charge with an average of 34.4-yards per carry this season. She put up seven rushing touchdowns. Another contributor was Tina Tela with a 17.4-yards per carry average, and three touchdowns. Abby Burns checked in with 17.7-yards per carry and two touchdowns. Adding to Utah’s score sheet this season was Kayla Bruner, who recorded four touchdowns and Veronica Siquerios with three scores.
Defensive coordinator Michael Ramos’ crew is nicknamed the “Dark Side.” Defensive linemen A.J. Roby and Sam Taylor, and linebacker Shannon Gebbia combined their talents to register a total of three shutouts over the course of the regular season.
You can listen to a live stream of the Championship Game by visiting here…