Home Editor's Picks St. Louis SLAM Stays Undefeated After Saturday’s Nail-Biting Win

St. Louis SLAM Stays Undefeated After Saturday’s Nail-Biting Win

41-40 Victory Over Minnesota Pushes Locals To Top Of WFA Pro American Conference

by Brian Ledford

(EDINA, MN) In the ledger books, the St. Louis SLAM football team recorded their fifth straight victory over the Minnesota Vixen in a road contest Saturday at Kuhlman Field.

However for the blood pressure rate, it wasn’t easy.

Photo Credit: Gerald Affeldt

In the battle between Pro American Conference rivals in the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA), the SLAM edged the Vixen, 41-40, to remain undefeated (2-0).

Minnesota trailed by a solo point after scoring a touchdown with :40 remaining in the contest and elected to go for a two-point conversion afterwards, hoping for a come-from-behind upset.

The gamble was unsuccessful with an incomplete pass and St. Louis survived to stay atop the WFA Pro American standings.

St. Louis quarterback Jaime Gaal had five touchdown passes on the night, pushing the All-American’s total to eight overall through two games, while Kerri McMahan and Sydney Bloch each had a pair of scoring receptions.

Minnesota (0-1) launched their season in WFA Week 2 and fielded a solid team that mixed tenured veterans, hard-charging rookies and a new head coach, former Vixen All-American Connor Jo Lewis.

If anything, they had a new attitude. They certainly gave the SLAM a run for their money and one can anticipate another nailbiter when the two teams meet again June 15 at St. Mary’s High School in St. Louis.

Photo Credit: Gerald Affeldt

Minnesota started the game with opening possession, but the SLAM’s defense quickly put the kibosh on any yardage. The ensuing punt was blocked by Brooklynn Devitt and St. Louis had excellent field position at the Minnesota 29 yard-line three minutes deep.

The SLAM quickly cobbled a four-play scoring drive as Gaal connected with Bloch, a newcomer to the team this season, from six yards out at the 10:25 mark. Place kicker Kaylee Neutzling added the PAT for their early 7-0 lead.

Undaunted, the Vixen quickly countered back within sixty seconds as quarterback Erin Kelley connected with receiver Amanda Dvorak for a 35-yard touchdown pass with 9:26 left in the first quarter. Hannah Eckhardt’s successful kick afterwards tied the score, 7-7.

The SLAM scored on their second possession with a six-play, 66-yard drive that was concluded by Gaal’s 28-yard rocket to McMahan with 6:54 left in quarter. St. Louis extended their lead to 14-7 following Neutzling’s successful PAT.

Not to be outmatched, Minnesota answered with a 75-yard drive punctuated by Kelley’s second touchdown throw of the quarter, a three-yard score to receiver Jackie Radford with :55 left in the stanza. Eckhardt’s successful kick afterwards resulted in another tie, 14-14.

Photo Credit: Gerald Affeldt

Anchored by the SLAM’s offensive line of Caitlin Erickson, Pamela Green, Marion Ball, Tamikka Brents and Antonnia Washington, the visitors launched second quarter scoring with a nine-play, 66-yard drive, finished by Jada Humphrey’s two-yard, untouched waltz with 10:45 left in the half. Neutzling’s attempted PAT kick was unsuccessful, but St. Louis still held the advantage, 20-14.

Well, at least for a little while. The Vixen charged hard on their next possession and tied the score, 20-20, with 6:17 left in the half with newcomer Johanna Vermöhlen’s four-yard touchdown run. Eckhardt’s successful kick afterwards gave Minnesota their first lead of the game, 21-20.

The SLAM flipped the scoreboard with an eight-play, 63- yard push and with 1:38 left in the half, McMahan’s second touchdown catch of the contest, a 20-yarder from Gaal, resulted in a 26-21 lead change. Neutzling’s added kick pushed the advantage to six points.

Minnesota attempted a late drive in the second, but fumbled and the loose ball was recovered by Kinnaudy Daniels at the Minnesota 29 with :24 remaining.

The SLAM couldn’t punch the ball into the endzone after the turnover, yet maintained a 27-21 lead at intermission.

Photo Credit: Gerald Affeldt

With second-half opening possession, St. Louis churned an 11-play, 65-yard scoring drive that was finished by Gaal’s seven-yard touchdown pass to Amanda Richardson at the 8:07 mark. Neutzling’s successful kick afterwards widened the SLAM’s lead to 34-21.

The Vixen narrowed the score on their next possession with Radford’s second touchdown catch of the game, a 32-yarder from Kelley, with 4:28 left in the third quarter. Eckhardt’s kick followed and Minnesota sliced the deficit to six points, 34-28.

The SLAM widened their margin back to a baker’s dozen via two long catches by Bloch. The rookie snared a 30-yard catch from Gaal with 2:50 left for her third touchdown reception of the season. Neutzling’s kick afterwards pushed St. Louis’ lead to 41-28.

As the fourth quarter started, Minnesota made another scoring rally. Kelley’s fourth touchdown pass of the night was hauled in by Dvorak from 14-yards out with 10:59 left in the game. However, Eckhardt’s ensuing kick was unsuccessful, but the Vixen were still within striking distance, trailing 41-34.

Photo Credit: Gerald Affeldt

Looking to chew up some precious clock time, the SLAM started a methodical drive that consumed about five minutes. With the team facing pressure on fourth down within the Minnesota 20, Neuztling attempted a 25-yard field goal with 5:22 remaining but the kick went wide left and the differential stayed at seven points.

On Minnesota’s next possession, the SLAM’s defensive unit of Neutzling, Devitt, Alisha Straws, Raven Williams, Mary Altepeter, Tay Johnson, Keyonna Smith, Jamie Skinner, Myah LeFlore and others, held the hosts at bay. Straws’ excellent, open-field tackle on third down forced the Vixen to punt with under four minutes left.

Conversely, the SLAM offense couldn’t gain any traction with their next possession and had to punt, handing Minnesota the ball with good field position at St. Louis’ 46-yard line with 1:38 remaining.

Photo Credit: Gerald Affeldt

The Vixen, feeling momentum on their side, quickly jettisoned a 54-yard scoring drive that was finished by Vermöhlen’s four-yard touchdown plunge with :40 left as Minnesota narrowed the score to 41-40.

Instead of safely playing for the tie, the Vixen elected to go for the aforementioned two-point conversion for a potential win. However, Kelley’s pass to a wide-open Radford was low, which resulted in an incompletion that deflated the sails out of the hometown crowd.

The SLAM cleanly fielded the ensuing onside kickoff attempt and killed the clock to secure victory.

Minnesota outscored St. Louis in the second half, 19-14, but the SLAM survived to notch the 41-40 win, their fifth in a row against the Vixen that dates back to May 2022.

Gaal unofficially finished with 22 completions for 274 yards and five touchdowns while Humphrey rushed for 103 yards and a solo score.

The SLAM continues back-to-back road trips next weekend with a meeting with WFA Division 2 rep Derby City Dynamite (1-0) this upcoming Saturday in Louisville, Kentucky.

St. Louis’ next home game is Saturday, May 18 at St. Louis University High School against the Boston Renegades, the five-time reigning WFA Pro champions.

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

(Game recap constructed via online coverage from Town Square Television. To watch the replay in its entirety, go to this link.

INDIVIDUAL SLAM STATISTICS (UNOFFICIAL)

PASSING: Gaal. 21-27, 274 Yards, 5 TDs, 0 INT

RUSHING: Humphrey 23-103, 1 TD

RECEIVING: McMahan 7-104, 2 TDs. Bloch 7-100, 2 TDs. Humphrey 3-31. Richardson 3-28, 1 TD.  Smith 1-11. Skinner 1-1.

KICKING: Neutzling 5-6 PATs, 0-1 FG.

 

 

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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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