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Sunday, July 14, 2013

The D.C. Divas finish their season as division champions for the 10th time

Militia End Divas’ Season for Fourth Straight Time, 58-34
Neal Rozendaal

Boston, MA – Over nearly three quarters, the DC Divas and Boston Militia were locked in a close, thrilling contest. But the fourth quarter is where champions are made, and on this night, the fourth quarter belonged to Boston.

The Boston Militia scored three unanswered touchdowns to break open a 36-34 game late in the third quarter and outlasted the DC Divas, 58-34. Boston advanced to the conference championship game for the fifth straight season, while the Divas suffered their fourth consecutive playoff loss at the hands of the Militia.

This game pitted the Divas’ balanced, methodical offense against Boston’s explosive, quick strike rushing attack. The differences were apparent from the start of the game. The Divas (6-4) received the opening kickoff and drained over seven minutes of game time on a long drive that concluded with a three-yard touchdown run by Kenyetta Grigsby.

Trailing 7-0, the Militia (10-0) tied the score just 24 seconds later. Whitney Zelee took the ball on the first play from scrimmage and dashed over half the length of the field for a quick touchdown.

The Boston Militia defense then made a big play, gaining their only interception of the game on a pass from Divas quarterback Allyson Hamlin. Boston took over at midfield and drove into DC territory. Although the DC defense forced Boston into a third and goal situation, Boston quarterback Alison Cahill converted for the Militia with a ten-yard touchdown run, and a successful two-point conversion try staked Boston to a 15-7 advantage at the end of the first quarter.

DC put together another long scoring drive, with Grigsby rushing into the end zone from three yards out to cut the deficit to 15-14. Boston struck quickly again, taking just 76 seconds to push the lead back to eight points on a Cahill seven-yard scoring run.

Grigsby, the Divas’ offensive star, rushed for her third touchdown of the game midway through the second quarter. Her 18-yard sprint to the end zone put the Divas within one point at 22-21. The Divas’ special teams then made their first big play of the game, recovering an onside kick to give the DC offense another opportunity.

Grigsby took advantage, making another long run to the end zone, her fourth of the game, with 3:27 remaining in the half. The Divas regained the lead, 28-22.

But the Boston offense responded to the challenge. On fourth down, Zelee broke free on a long run for her second touchdown of the game, handing the Militia a 29-28 advantage with under two minutes remaining before halftime. Neither offense was able to make a serious scoring threat as the half came to a close, and the teams went to the locker room with Boston clinging to a one-point lead.

Cahill opened the third quarter with her third touchdown run of the game, padding Boston’s lead to 36-28. The Divas came back with another long drive – this time consuming over six minutes of game time – and Grigsby rushed for her fifth touchdown of the night. The extra point was blocked, but DC had slashed the deficit to 36-34.

Boston then made their second special teams miscue of the contest, fumbling the kickoff return and giving the Divas possession around midfield. DC had the ball with under six minutes left in the third quarter and an opportunity to potentially take the lead. But Grigsby coughed up a rare fumble, and Boston regained possession in their own territory.

Zelee made the Divas pay for their mistake, zipping to the end zone for a long touchdown run late in the third quarter. With a successful two-point conversion, the Militia led, 44-34.

For three quarters, the DC offense had been spectacular, but it stalled in the fourth period as the Divas pressed for quick scores. The Divas turned the ball over on downs on their next three possessions, while Boston’s offense was unfailing. A fullback rush for a touchdown with under ten minutes to go gave Boston a 51-34 advantage, and Cahill logged her fourth rushing touchdown late in the fourth quarter for the final points of the game.

Boston will move on to play the Chicago Force in the Eastern Conference championship game next week. The Divas, meanwhile, end their season with a 6-4 record, including three losses to the Militia. The Divas have lost 11 of their last 12 meetings with Boston over the past four years, while compiling a 24-3 record against all other opponents. The Divas are one of the strongest teams in women’s football, not only in the Northeast but across the entire country.

But for this season at least, the crown in the Northeast goes to Boston once again.

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