(ST. LOUIS, MO) After a dominant victory Saturday night, the St. Louis SLAM firmly secured the potential of a fifth national championship trophy two weekends from now.
This comes after the SLAM’s 44-27 triumph over the Minnesota Vixen at the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA) Pro American Conference title game held at St. Mary’s High School.
The SLAM trailed the Vixen with about five minutes left in the first half but proceeded to post 27 unanswered points to punch their ticket to the league’s July 22 Pro championship game at Tom Benson Field, located at the Pro Football Hall of Fame complex in Canton, Ohio.
St. Louis (8-0) meets the defending WFA Pro champion Boston Renegades, who are also 8-0 after their 58-6 win over Alabama Fire in the WFA Pro National finale also held Saturday night.
The contest was anything but easy for the SLAM as they had to flip the scoreboard numerous times during the first half.
After the Vixen (5-3) punted on the game’s opening possession, St. Louis churned a 15-play scoring drive, capped by place kicker Kerri McMahan’s 27-yard field goal recorded at the 5:53 mark that gave the SLAM a 3-0 edge.
Minnesota answered with their first points of the contest, punctuated by running back Sarah Rosche’s 14-yard scamper with 1:19 remaining in the first quarter. Hannah Miriam Eckhardt’s PAT kick afterwards pushed Vixen’s lead to 7-3.
The SLAM regained the lead on their next possession as quarterback Jaime Gaal connected with McMahan for a 27-yard endzone strike with 14:05 left in the second quarter. Taylor Hay added the PAT kick to hand St. Louis a 10-7 advantage.
Undaunted, Minnesota responded with a 79-yard scoring drive as the frame progressed and collected the game’s third lead change with 5:16 left in the half as quarterback Erin Kelley hit receiver Tasheanna Washington-Ware for a 28-yard touchdown pass that sported the Vixen a 14-10 lead following the successful PAT kick.
At this point, the SLAM posted a flurry of points with work from both sides of the ball in the half’s waning minutes that dramatically shifted momentum.
Starting at their own 45-yard line with under five minutes left, the SLAM’s offensive unit – anchored by the blocking of Marion Ball, Pamela Green, Ariana Smith, Tamikka Brents and Caitlin Erickson – aptly sprinted downfield and regained the lead with :52 seconds left as running back Jada Humphrey plunged from one yard out to hand St. Louis a 16-14 lead.
Knowing that they were not going to have opening possession in the second half, the Vixen brain trust gambled and tried to push the ball downfield for a potential score deep, but their ensuing philosophy ultimately failed.
In the process, SLAM co-captain Jamie Skinner intercepted Kelley’s intended pass at the St. Louis 40-yard line and promptly returned it 40 yards, which handed St. Louis possession at the Vixen’s 20 with :16 left.
Ultimately on their first play from scrimmage, Gaal hit McMahan for the SLAM rookie’s second touchdown grab of the game with ten seconds remaining. With Hay’s added PAT kick, St. Louis sported a 23-14 lead at intermission.
With the opening possession of the second half, the SLAM churned a three-play, 61-yard scoring drive that was highlighted with Humphrey’s second touchdown run of the contest – a 46-yard scamper recorded at the 13:48 mark of the third quarter. Hay added the PAT kick that extended St. Louis’ lead to 30-14.
The Vixen continued to experience a case of the sour belches as the third quarter progressed and were held to minimal yardage due to the defensive work of the SLAM’s defensive collaborative consisting of Jasmine Yandell, Brooklyn Devitt, Tay Johnson, Mary Altepeter, Kaylee Neutzling, Kelsie Nesbit, Keyonna Smith, Mariah West, Alisha Straws, Annamarie Magnani, Katelynn Hartman-Geier, Jennifer Perkins and others.
St. Louis capped the 27-0 rally as receiver Keyonna Smith, serving dual roles as receiver, snared Gaal’s 18-yard touchdown pass with 1:30 left in the third quarter. Hay’s PAT kick afterwards pushed the SLAM’s lead to 37-14.
As the game progressed, Humphrey collected her third touchdown run of the night from eight yards out with ten minutes left in the game that helped push the SLAM’s lead to 44-21.
St. Louis outscored Minnesota 21-13 in the second half to secure the 44-27 Pro American conference championship win.
Gaal finished the night with three touchdown strikes while collecting over 260 yards passing while Humphrey claimed three endzone runs with over 160 yards on the ground.
With the win, the SLAM now seeks a fifth historical national trophy on July 22 against the defending national champs.
And with momentum currently on their side, preparation will take place over the next two weeks to potentially make that dream a reality.
Recap constructed from coverage provided by Live Stream STL.
For more info on the team, go to their official website.
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.