Home Editor's Picks St. Louis SLAM Claims Opening Round Playoff Victory

St. Louis SLAM Claims Opening Round Playoff Victory

Hosts Minnesota in WFA Pro American Conference Finale July 8

by Brian Ledford

(ST. LOUIS, MO) St. Louis SLAM 2023 newcomer Jada Humphrey has a nickname that certainly fits the style of play.

The multi-offensive specialist goes by the moniker, “Jada the Jet.”

Saturday night at St. Mary’s High School, her output reached super-sonic levels.

Humphrey’s five-touchdown performance highlighted the SLAM’s 49-14 victory over the Cali War in the semifinal round of the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA) Pro American conference post-season bracket.

With the win, the undefeated SLAM (7-0) maintains home field advantage for the conference finale and hosts Minnesota Vixen (5-2) on Saturday, July 8 at St. Mary’s. The Vixen, seeded second in the four-team Pro American bracket, defeated third-seeded Houston Energy, 38-34, Saturday night to earn the trip to St. Louis two weekends from now.

The team that triumphs at the July 8 Pro American conference championship advances to the WFA Pro national title game on July 22 in Canton, Ohio.

Although Humphrey’s output – consisting of four touchdown runs and a six-point catch – stood out in the stat sheet, there were plenty of solid efforts across the board, and on both sides of the ball, that deserved praise.

Tied 14-14 midway through the second quarter, the SLAM scored 35 unanswered points while the defense never surrendered a score.

The Cali War were certainly game competitors for the night but the setback finished their season 4-2.

The SLAM started the scoring with their second possession of the game and with about six minutes remaining, quarterback Jaime Gaal connected with receiver Kerri MacMahan with a six-yard touchdown pass. Taylor Hay added the PAT afterwards to make the score 7-0.

Undaunted, the War countered with a 78-yard scoring drive that chewed up the remainder of the first quarter and extended into the first play of the second frame. Running back Priscilla Garnder’s five-yard end zone romp whittled the score to 7-6 and marked the first time the SLAM’s defense had allowed points from scrimmage this season.

The War attempted a two-point conversion afterwards, but failed, and the differential remained at a solo point.

On the SLAM’s next possession, the offensive line of Caitlin Erickson, Tamikka Brents, Marion Ball, Ariana Smith and Pamela Green helped the team quickly churn a four-play, 55-yard scoring drive that was capped by Humphrey’s 28-yard touchdown run with roughly 13:00 left in the half. Hay’s successful kick afterwards pushed St. Louis’ lead to 14-6.

Just like they had performed in their prior possession, the War marched boldly downfield and produced a 63-yard touchdown drive that was concluded by Nori Washington’s four-yard run midway through the quarter. Cali gambled on the two-point conversion and the risk was rewarded as quarterback Tania Yarely Guzman’s pass was collected by Jamie Robinson in the end zone, which tied the score, 14-14.

The hectic pace continued as St. Louis answered with another quick touchdown as McMahan’s second six-point grab of the game – this time for 42 yards – was claimed with about 4:30 left in the half. Hay added another PAT kick that pushed the SLAM’s lead to 21-14.

The locals had one final chance to score prior to halftime and took advantage of the situation. Starting at their own 38-yard line with the clock winding down, the SLAM’s eight-play, 62-yard scoring drive was capped by Humphrey’s second score of the game – a 15-yard catch from Gaal – with :40 left.

Hay’s successful kick followed and St. Louis held a 28-14 lead at intermission.

With opening possession in the second half, the SLAM kept their momentum rolling and produced another quick touchdown. A four-play, 51-yard streak ensued and was capped by Humphrey’s 29-yard run two minutes deep. Hay added another PAT kick and the score widened to 35-14.

Meanwhile the SLAM’s defense returned to their ferocious ways after the early Cali scare. With front line work from Tay Johnson, Mary Altepeter, Annamarie Fagnani,  Jennifer Perkins and others with line backing and secondary coverage from Keyonna Smith, Mariah West, Kelsie Nesbit, Jamie Skinner, Kaylee Nuetzling, Veronica Smith, Alisha Straws and others, held the War – who headed into the night the WFA Pro’s second-highest scoring offense – to minimal yardage.

Their collective efforts held the score to 35-14 heading into the fourth quarter.

Humphrey added two more end zone runs in the final frame, a 29-yarder two minutes deep and a 21-yarder midway through the quarter – to finish the five-touchdown performance, which pushes her overall mark to 15 scored on the season.

Hay went on to successfully convert all conversion kicks (7-7) as the SLAM steamrolled to the 49-14 conference semifinal triumph.

Gaal’s three touchdowns thrown now gives the quarterback 18 on the season and McMahan’s pair of six-point catches pushes the rookie’s total to six on the year.

The SLAM’s July 8 WFA Pro American conference championship game with Minnesota will be the pair’s third meeting of the season. St. Louis have shut out the Vixen twice, 20-0 in April and 24-0 in May – en route to their current undefeated record.

For more information on the SLAM, go to their official website.

(Story constructed through online coverage provided by Live Stream STL).

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By trade, he is a six-time, regional Emmy Award-winning news videographer/editor for KTVI/KPLR-TV. By hobby, he is a writer for Arch City Media, dating back to February 2014. Emphasis is on featuring and promoting local women's sports, but will cover anything that is not reported by traditional media outlets. Also a contributor to local concert reviews.

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