(GOLDEN, CO) The St. Louis SLAM had visions of gold in their journey to the Centennial State this weekend.
That missive consisted of claiming championship rings.
Consider the expedition an overwhelming success as the SLAM toppled the Detroit Dark Angels 34-0 in the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA) Tier II title game held Saturday afternoon at the Colorado School of Mines’ Campbell Field.
With the shutout, St. Louis (11-0) claimed their third WFA trophy in the past four seasons and fourth overall in their 16-year existence.
The game was highlighted by stellar play on both sides of the ball that resulted in a sizable advantage on the scoreboard at intermission and a lock down defense that grounded Detroit (8-3) to a goose egg on the same electronic display.
After the Dark Angels stalled on the game’s opening possession, the SLAM’s Kaylee Neutzling booted a 27-yard field goal with 10:30 left in the first quarter that made the score 3-0.
As the frame progressed, both teams’ defensive units snared interceptions. St. Louis linebacker Chelsea Vinson snared a pass from Dark Angels quarterback Maggie Hudkins with 4:35 remaining while Detroit’s Danyelle Kerse pulled off the rebuttal two plays later.
With the differential remaining at three points as the first quarter expired, the SLAM faced a third down situation from their own 24-yard line.
On the first play of the second quarter, and with offensive protection by Kim Kinsella, Tammie Moore, Caitlin Erickson, Marion Ball and Toni Washington, quarterback Jaime Gaal connected with receiver Danielle Price, who proceeded to convert the play into a 76-yard touchdown strike.
Place kicker Danielle Thompson added the extra point that pushed St. Louis’ lead to 10-0 at the 14:45 mark.
With defensive pressure by the SLAM’s Keyonna Smith, Tiffany Pugh, Raven Williams, Pamela Green, Jamie Skinner, Torii Davis, Kamilah Russell, Veronica Smith and a host of others, Detroit was forced to punt on their next possession.
St. Louis churned a ten-play, 47-yard scoring drive, capped by Neutzling’s second field goal of the contest, a 35-yarder that pushed the score to 13-0 with 6:29 left in the half.
The SLAM continued to put the heat on the Dark Angels’ offensive unit and capitalized on a mishandled punt, resulting in a late-half drive that started within the Detroit 40 with five minutes remaining.
St. Louis veteran running back Taylor Hay then became a focal point of the offense and assisted her squad executing an eight-play, 36-yard scoring drive, completed by her two-yard plunge with two seconds left.
Thompson successfully converted the PAT that gave the SLAM a 20-0 lead at intermission.
With the second’s half’s opening possession at midfield, St. Louis pushed the ball into the end zone at the 11:52 mark with Gaal’s 38-yard touchdown pass to Price. Afterwards, Thompson maintained her perfect performance with the kick that widened the margin to 27-0.
Detroit’s offense showed signs of life later in the quarter and potentially broke the shutout with under three minutes left but a fumble at the St. Louis five-yard line, and recovery by the SLAM’s Davis as the ball rolled into the end zone, maintained the differential.
In the fourth quarter, the SLAM posted their final points as Gaal and Price collaborated on their third touchdown play, a 28-yard pass with 2:49 remaining, which clinched the championship. Thompson finished her season in PATs perfect (39-39) as St. Louis sported a 34-0 lead.
The SLAM put the exclamation point on their undefeated championship season as Neutzling’s late interception preserved the shutout.
Gaal finished the game with 240 yards in passing while Price finished with 156 total yards.
The team, which didn’t have a chance to defend their 2017 title due to a suspension of operations last year, can now officially place themselves back into the position of seeking back-to-back WFA championships in 2020.
With Saturday’s dominant result, one can expect that they’ll take up that golden challenge.
SLAM INDIVIDUAL OFFENSIVE STATISTICS
PASSING: Gaal 14-25, 240 YDS, 3 TDs, 1 INT
RUSHING: Price 3-34, 10-27, Hay 10-22 1 TD, Vinson 1-4
RECEIVING: Price 4-122 3 TDs, Neutzling 4-49, Watkins 2-13, Clay 2-12, V. Smith 1-8, Hay 1-2
KICKING: Neutzling 2-3 FG (27, 35) Thompson 4-4 PATs