Home Editor's Picks St. Louis SLAM Tops 5x WFA Champs To Remain Undefeated

St. Louis SLAM Tops 5x WFA Champs To Remain Undefeated

Saturday's 36-27 Home Victory Halts Boston's 42-Game Winning Streak

by Brian Ledford

(ST. LOUIS, MO) For those that follow the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA), Saturday’s showdown between the St. Louis SLAM and the Boston Renegades was going to be a “must-watch” game, whether it be on-site at St. Louis University High School or globally online.

Photo Credit: Gerald Affeldt

The two premier WFA Pro franchises currently hold the top position in their respective conferences and this weekend’s donnybrook would be the first meeting between the pair since the Renegades, the five-time defending champs, claimed their most-recent national trophy by beating the SLAM last July.

Many pundits projected that Boston was “safe money” for a win going in and with good reason.

Boston, the most-decorated champion in the sport of women’s tackle football, easily thumped opponents in their first two WFA contests this season, pushed their winning streak to a mind-numbing 42 straight games and showed no signs of upcoming turf weakness.

At the end of a hard-grueling sixty-minutes, the SLAM were the ones that went to the pay window.

St. Louis topped Boston, 36-27, to keep their spotless record intact (4-0) and proved to the WFA followers that they are prime contenders for their own fifth national championship later this year.

Photo Credit: Gerald Affeldt

“We wanted this victory so badly,” said SLAM defensive linebacker Myah LeFlore after the nine-point win. “We’ve been working on this since last season, and it tastes so good. A lot of people were doubting us coming into this game. I don’t know why, but now, hopefully everyone understands us.”

“We’ve been thinking about this for a long time,” added SLAM linebacker Mary Altepeter. “I’m really proud of us for locking in and putting in a full game together.”

Currently, St. Louis tops the WFA Pro American conference as the lone undefeated team while Boston (2-1) maintains their top placement in WFA Pro National.

The SLAM’s victory was defined by a multi-layered offense, a defense that never surrendered, specialty teams that executed perfectly against numerous challenges, and overall nerves that were made of steel.

“I don’t think we wanted an ‘L’,” said SLAM offensive lineman Marion Ball. ”We played a good, clean game tonight and we just killed it.”

The Renegades started the night with opening possession deep at their own 14-yard line and activated their high-octane offense that came into Saturday’s contest averaging over 50 points through two games.

Photo Credit: Gerald Affeldt

However, the SLAM defense, paced by LeFlore, Altepeter, Raven Williams, Alisha Straws, Tay Johnson, Jamie Skinner, Kinnaudy Daniels, Ciara Morgan, Stephanie Moore, Kaylee Neutzling, Keyonna Smith and Maddie Embree, forced a “three and out” against the juggernaut that commanded the narrative.

“It was really important for us to set the tone,” said LeFlore. “Everybody was really pitching in, and we got the job done.”

The ensuing Renegades’ punt resulted in the SLAM starting their first drive two minutes deep with excellent field position at Boston’s 28.

Two plays in, St. Louis drew first blood as quarterback Jaime Gaal connected with receiver Kerri McMahan for a 24-yard touchdown strike at the 12:24 mark. Neutzling cleanly kicked the PAT as the hosts possessed a 7-0 lead.

Unfazed, Boston countered with a seven-play, 79-yard response, punctuated by Kyshani Dummott’s first touchdown of the season, a 26-yard run with 7:32 left in the first quarter. Margaret Barden’s clean PAT kick afterwards tied the score at 7-7.

St. Louis’ offensive line – anchored by Ball, Antonnia Washington, Pamela Green, Tamikka Brents and Caitlin Erickson – helped churn a seven-play, 59-yard scoring drive on their next possession.

Photo Credit: Gerald Affeldt

“We kept our tempers in check and communicated,” said Ball of the SLAM’s O-line work that rightfully responded.

During the mix, McMahan caught her ninth touchdown reception of the season, this time via Gaal from 25 yards out, with 4:43 left in the quarter. Neutzling’s PAT followed and the SLAM sported a 14-7 edge.

Thanks to stubborn defenses, both teams couldn’t muster much yardage on their ensuing possessions. Boston started late in the first quarter with the ball at their own 16 and began to construct another impressive long drive that resulted in an endzone trip in the second quarter.

The 14-play, 84-yard push was concluded by veteran running back Ruth Matta’s 12-yard scamper with ten minutes left in the half. Barden’s PAT kick followed, and the game was tied 14-14.

The SLAM quickly broke the stalemate with a four-play, 58-yard scoring drive. Running back Jada Humphrey’s 41-yard dash set up rookie Christy Burkett’s four-yard touchdown waltz with 7:45 remaining in the frame that made the score 20-14. Neutzling’s attempted PAT afterwards was blocked, and the differential remained at six points.

Photo Credit: Gerald Affeldt

Both offenses were held at bay for the remainder of the half, but the SLAM executed excellent special teams play deep. Forced to punt at the two-minute warning, McMahan booted the ball near their own end-zone and was touched by Danielle Price at Boston’s one-yard line.

The Renegades’ first snap resulted in quarterback Megan McFadden being sacked by the SLAM’s LeFlore for a safety with 1:50 left that extended St. Louis’ lead to 22-14.

“Danielle got that stop at the one-yard line and she said, ‘take care of business,’” said LeFlore of the sequence. “Boom, I got there on the right side.”

With the safety, the SLAM received automatic possession but could not produce points, but the effort kept the Boston offense off the field for the remainder of the half, and the SLAM’s eight-point margin was retained at intermission.

This was pivotal as St. Louis received the opening possession of the second half and quickly capitalized.

Photo Credit: Gerald Affeldt

A seven-play, 55-yard scoring drive ensued – topped by Gaal’s three-yard quarterback keeper to the right side posted at the 12:06 mark – that widened the lead. Neutzling’s successful PAT kick followed as the SLAM extended their advantage to 29-14.

Boston’s offense sputtered on their opening possession and a high snap on their punt attempt resulted in the SLAM taking over at the Renegades’ 18-yard-line with 10:30 left in the quarter.

To their credit, Boston’s defense halted St. Louis’ next drive that could have potentially impacted the remaining complexion of the game. Neutzling’s attempted 24-yard field goal for the SLAM went wide and the game remained 29-14.

Both teams’ defenses continued their stellar play as the quarter progressed and one attending in

Photo Credit: Gerald Affeldt

person felt that this was still anyone’s game for the taking.

“I think we all knew what the game plan was and how to recognize things quickly,” assessed the SLAM’s Altepeter of the ongoing tussle “If we made a mistake, we knew how to shake it off and keep fighting.”

This specifically became evident as the Renegades launched possession at their own 29 with 4:14 left in the quarter and another eye-opening scoring drive began to take shape.

Boston churned 71 yards with seven plays and with 1:16 left in the quarter, Matta collected her second touchdown run of the game, this time for 20 yards out, that narrowed the score to 29-20.

The Renegades attempted a two-point conversion to tighten the differential, but the ensuing run was thwarted by the SLAM’s front wall and the margin remained at nine points.

Photo Credit: Gerald Affeldt

The visitors were feeling momentum on their side and their defense rose to the occasion with stellar coverage. With the SLAM starting their next possession deep at their own nine-yard-line, Boston’s secondary forced a pair of Gaal incompletions and then a blocked attempted pass on third down that forced the hosts to punt.

This resulted in Boston having excellent field position at the St. Louis 13 to begin the fourth quarter.

Three plays deep, the Renegades hit pay dirt as Stephanie Pascual rushed for a five-yard score, her third of the season, at the 14:08 mark. Barden’s successful PAT kick followed, and the SLAM saw their lead whittled down to two points, 29-27.

Feeling the heat, the SLAM’s kickoff return unit didn’t panic. A line-drive, bouncing kick was cleanly fielded by Price, who promptly romped to the Boston 37.

St. Louis constructed a six-play scoring drive that was concluded by Gaal’s four-yard touchdown pass to Keyonna Smith with 10:13 remaining. Neutzling’s successful PAT followed that pushed the SLAM’s lead to 36-27.

“It couldn’t have went better,” reflected Ball of the late push. “We got exactly what we went for. We executed exactly how we were coached.”

Boston couldn’t gain much traction on their next drive due to back-to-back offensive penalties. Wi

Photo Credit: Gerald Affeldt

th about seven minutes left, they attempted a fourth down conversion near mid-field and failed, which handed the ball back to St. Louis at Boston’s 43.

The SLAM didn’t fare much better with the Renegades’ defense putting the kibosh on their ensuing efforts. St. Louis were stuck turning the ball over after Gaal’s fourth-down attempted pass was thwarted with 2:53 left.

Trailing deep by nine points, Boston knew they had to act quickly if they wanted to maintain the undefeated WFA streak that dated back to May 2018.

Starting at their own 31, the Renegades’ pace picked up with a plethora of plays that pushed their drive into the SLAM’s side of the turf.

With under a minute remaining, their gates would be shut as McFadden’s attempted pass was intercepted by Skinner at the 21-yard line that clinched the SLAM’s victory.

St. Louis outscored the Renegades 14-13 in the second half to

Photo Credit: Gerald Affeldt

snare the 36-27 win and remain undefeated.

Gaal finished the night with 12 completions for 160 yards and three touchdowns thrown while Humphrey rushed for 128 yards. McMahan caught three catches for 54 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

But let’s push all mathematics aside for a moment. Saturday was about the SLAM collectively achieving the “W” against the most-decorated team in the WFA.

This certainly provides momentum as they continue their undefeated season June 1 in a road trip against Dallas Elite Mustangs.

“This has been the toughest start of a season that I’ve ever been in, but we’re not going to relax,” said Ball.

“Don’t sleep on St. Louis,” said Altepeter. “We know we have a target on our back and people like to come for us, but we’re ready for it. We’re ready for that competition and play some good football.”

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


PASSING: Gaal 12-23, 160 Yards, 3 TDs, 0 INT

RUSHING: Humphrey 23-128. Gaal 3-17, 1 TD. Burkett 3-1, 1 TD.

RECEIVING: McMahan 3-54, 2 TDs. Bloch 3-37. Neutzling 3-23. Richardson 1-15. Humphrey 1-7. K. Smith 1-4, 1 TD.

KICKING: Neutzling 4-5 PATs, 0-1 FG.

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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