Game recap by Hal Lamar
On a beautiful and a windy day in DeKalb County, the Atlanta Xplosion's defense contributed seven sacks and scored one of the team's six touchdowns enroot to a season opening 43-0 pasting of the visiting Clarksville (Tennessee) Fox 43-0 Saturday, April II at DeKalb County's James R Haliford Stadium (formally known as DeKalb Memorial Stadium.)
Before a largely partisan crowd of 1,000, the Xplosion overcame a shaky first quarter via their scrappy and determined adversaries to score their first touchdown at the 12:47 mark of the second quarter when starting quarterback April Ditto found Tanika Stephens in the end zone to finish an II play, 28 yard drive. The Xplosion, with a decided advantage over the Foxes numerically, exploited it to the hilt with two more scores before the break, one of them a 43 yard interception for a score by Mickieon Dozier with a minute and change left in the half that brought the crowd to its collective feet.
The Fox, last year's Tier 2 Midsouth division winners who finished with an 8-2 mark before losing the tier II national title to the Montreal Blitz, never gave up despite the three touchdown deficit. In fact, an opening drive in the second half by Atlanta was stopped at midfield on an interception by the Fox's Jennifer Hunt. But the team couldn't exploit the turnover. On their second possession of the half, Atlanta scored its fourth TD when Lee Lee Cannon took Ditto's handoffand raced unmolested 48 yards into the end zone. Cannon, voted co-MVP of the contest, carried nine times for 113 yards and scored twice. Tailgating her rushing performance was backfield comrade Launa Sims who carried the pigskin 12 times for 90 yards and scored six on a 12 yard run in the closing moments of the third period.
But at least part of the game ball in the opening season win should go to the Xplosion's exalted defensive elevens who kept Clarksville's quarterbacks entrapped in their own backfield seven times. Those sacks were shared by seven different defenders with veteran Carla "Smiley" Odom leading the way with five solo tackles, three assists and a sack. "We have new players but they are also athletes," said Odom, one of only a handful of veterans held over from the Xplosion's 2006 championship squad. c c They have a lot of self confidence." Maurice Tyler, in his first year as head coach, agrees. c c A lot of these players have excelled at other sports. Now, they have to learn the finer point’s offootball. But I'm counting on the leadership of the veterans to bring them along."
The win Saturday partially erases 2008's opening season loss to the Orlando Mayhem on the road. Ironically, the team's second 2009 game will return the Xplosion to Texas to take on the Houston Energy. In 2008, the team lost its second game to the Dallas Diamonds. It was the first time the team had lost back to back in the opening stanza of any season since 2004 when they dropped a 28-21 squeaker to the New York Sharks in their inaugural season with the Independent Women's Football League (IWFL).
And what about this weekend's opponent? "What I do know about them (Houston) is that they throw the football," said Tyler. c c They are also a veteran team that spreads the field."
On April II, the Energy was crushed by Dallas 69-0.
About the IWFL
Founded in 2000, the Independent Women’s Football League (IWFL) is an international women’s tackle football league. The IWFL provides women’s tackle football teams the opportunity to play at the top competition tier of their sport, while fostering an environment of goodwill and sportsmanship. The IWFL is the only recognized professional women’s tackle football league. Offering participation levels appropriate for all markets the IWFL has taken the lead in the development of women’s football for future generations. For more visit www.iwflsports.com
Kenya Ladies Open
The 2019 Everything In Sport Women Edition conference took place at the London Stadium, December 3-4, and played host to executives and community leaders from all avenues of the sport world.