(ST. LOUIS, MO) Hosting their first game in almost three years, the St. Louis SLAM implemented a lethal aerial attack that resulted in a 38-6 victory over the Derby City Dynamite Saturday night at St. Mary’s High School.
SLAM quarterback Jaime Gaal threw five touchdown passes in the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA) showdown that successfully pushed the team’s record to 2-1.
This was the SLAM’s first local game since July 2019 and, no doubt, returning back to local turf in front of supportive fans helped propel the win.
“For the love of football and for the love of the SLAM, it was amazing,” said receiver Keyonna Smith afterwards, who recorded a pair of touchdown hauls.
The triumph also provided positive push after the SLAM’s setback against Minnesota two Saturday’s ago.
“Just coming off that bye week, the idea was, ‘Hey, heal up where we can,’” said SLAM Head Coach Quincy Davis. “One of the things coming out of that Minnesota game was that I felt we weren’t as productive on offense as I like to have been, so I really challenged them this week.”
After a scoreless first quarter, the SLAM produced a sustainable drive that could have potentially broke the game’s goose egg. But three minutes into the second frame, Dynamite linebacker Essence Buckner intercepted a Gaal pass and scampered for a 71-yard “Pick Six” that gave the opponents a 6-0 lead.
“I talked to her on the sideline and she wasn’t wavered,” assessed Coach Davis’ interaction with the quarterback after the play. “She understood what had happened and she was like, ‘I’ve got it Coach, I’ll fix it.’”
Undaunted, the SLAM returned for a seven-play, 46-yard scoring drive that concluded with Gaal’s 18-yard touchdown pass to Veronica Smith at the 9:57 mark that tied the score. Kaylee Neutzling added the ensuing PAT kick that handed St. Louis a 7-6 edge.
Deep in the half, St. Louis widened the differential with a five-play, 49-yard drive that saw Gaal connect with Keyonna Smith for a touchdown catch with 1:32 left.
“Nothing super special, we just do what we’re coached to do,” said Smith. “It doesn’t matter if the ball is coming my way or not, I’m gonna run my route hard. I did that and my quarterback trusted me. Six points up.”
Neutzling followed with the successful conversion kick as the SLAM held onto a 14-6 lead at intermission.
St. Louis opened the second half with initial possession and it didn’t take long to post points. The steady work of the SLAM offensive line, paced by Caitlin Erickson, Cherie Miller and Ariana Smith and a host of others, set the tone. Danielle Price’s 40-yard touchdown haul from Gaal at the 13:37 mark widened the margin and the score expanded to 21-6 following Neutzling’s successful PAT kick.
Derby City knew that momentum has clearly in not in their favor and did their best to recover but the SLAM’s defense put a halt to that. Following a sack made by rookie linebacker Myah LaFlore that resulted in lost yardage, newcomer Jasmine Yandell intercepted a pass with 9:05 left that gave the host possession at Derby City’s 45-yard line.
“Our rookies are super, super special this year,” assessed Smith. “Every single opportunity we give to them, they knock it out of the park.
Smith’s second touchdown snare, a one-yarder with 4:45 left in the third quarter, was followed by another successful PAT kick by Neutzling that pushed the lead to 28-6.
In the final quarter, Neutzling added a 24-yard field goal with 11:22 remaining that expanded the score to 31-6.
Meanwhile, the SLAM defensive unit kept the Dynamite’s wick unlit. For the evening, the unit paced by the aforementioned Smiths, Brandi Troupe, Tay Johnson, Jennifer Perkins, Mary Altepeter, Kelsie Nesbit and Jamie Skinner surrendered zero points.
The SLAM claimed their concluding touchdown on the night as Gaal connected with Skinner for a 22-yard strike with 4:15 left. Gaal finished the night completing 13 passes for 178 yards and five touchdowns.
The SLAM’s 38-point scoreless streak resulted in the dominating 38-6 win.
St. Louis hosts the Boston Renegades May 14 and they are hoping that Saturday’s winning result will propel them to positive results against the defending WFA Pro champions.
“We do not take day-by-day lightly,” said Smith. “So we will continue to do all the work and when it comes time to step onto the field, we’ll give it everything we’ve got, take all the positives that we’ve got an be ready to go.”
SLAM INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
PASSING: Gaal, 13-24, 178 YDS, 5 TDS.
RUSHING: Hay 18-68, Price 1-18
RECEIVING: Price 4-88, 1 TD. Skinner 6-66, 1 TD. V. Smith 1-18, 1 TD. K. Smith 2-16, 2 TDs. Nesbit 2-18.
KICKING: Neutzling, 1 FG, 24 Yds. PATs: 5-5
By trade, he is a six-time, regional Emmy Award-winning news videographer/editor for KTVI/KPLR-TV. By hobby, he is an announcer and digital content producer for St. Louis-based Arch Rival Roller Derby. Also a webcast announcer for post-season roller derby tournaments on wftda.tv. Yep, this Illinoisan primarily writes about derby, covering Arch Rival, the St. Chux Derby Chix and the STL GateKeepers men's league. He also writes about St. Louis SLAM Women's Football, St. Louis Lions women's soccer and other sports topics.