(written, shot, edited and narrated for Somerville Patch)
The Boston Militia may not have played their best game of the season Saturday against the Indy Crash at Dilboy Stadium, but most teams on their best night could not dominate the way the Militia did to win the WFA National Conference.
The Boston Militia put up 484 yards of total offense, powering them to a 46-18 victory over the Crash. They will face the San Diego Surge in the WFA Championship on July 30 in Dallas.
The Militia established their offense from the very first drive of the game. Starting at their 20-yard-line, fullback Whitney Zelee ripped off a 30-yard sprint down the right sideline.
Two plays later, quarterback Allison Cahill lofted a pass in front of wide receiver Amy Saur, who had beaten her defender downfield. Saur caught it over her defender’s outstretched hand near the Indy 25-yard-line, then sprinted to the end zone to make it 6-0 with less than two minutes gone in the first.
“Our receivers are excellent,” Cahill said. “I’m going to take that matchup over any [defensive] back in the league.”
After the Militia defense forced a three-and-out, the offense took over at Indy’s 43-yard-line. Running back Stacey Tiamfook rushed for 13 yards, but a snap over Cahill’s head put them at second-and-20 from midfield. After a dropped pass on second down, Cahill once again went to the deep ball, and once again a wide receiver – this time Chante Bonds – beat her defender deep for the touchdown.
After going up 12-0, and with the defense yet to allow a first down, the Militia established their running game. Cahill started their third drive with a 23-yard quarterback keeper, then Tiamfook and Dorothy Donaldson went to work, each rushing for 20 yards before Tiamfook broke two tackles to punch it in. Tiamfook also ran in the two-point conversion to make it 20-0 Militia.
“The good thing about our running backs and our whole team is we have a lot of depth,” Zelee said. “I can sub in for Stacey, Stacey can sub in for me, [Donaldson] we know she’s always going to push hard to the very end, so we can always use her to power in for touchdowns, even run plays. We have a lot of playmakers on our team.”
The Militia scored twice more before the second quarter was halfway through, on a 3-yard rush by Zelee and a 16-yard pass to wide receiver Adrienne Smith. After that, however, the team eased up on the Crash, who scored on a 60-yard touchdown pass to Terri Abraham, a play in which several Militia looked position to tackle her, only to come up empty.
The offensive line then allowed Cahill to get sacked and fumble the ball. The defense kept Indy off the scoreboard, with Briannah Gallo knocking away a fourth-and-5 pass, while Cahill passionately rallied the offense on the sideline.
“I was just trying to remind ourselves of what we’re playing for and who we are and what our goals are,” Cahill said.
The offense responded, going on a 12-play, 85-yard drive that ended with a 2-yard Donaldson touchdown to make it 39-6 Militia with just under 30 seconds left in the half.
Neither team scored in the third. The Crash – who brought only 23 players on the 16-hour bus ride to Somerville – started to fatigue, turning the ball over twice. The Militia’s only offensive drive ended in a blocked field goal.
It took the Militia’s defense to galvanize the offense. Linebacker Molly Goodwin picked off a fourth-quarter pass in Indy’s territory, then lateraled it to teammate Mia Brickhouse before getting tackled. Brickhouse took it all the way to the 9-yard-line, and two plays later Zelee rushed it in for her second touchdown.
“I just caught it, turned around, just pitched it to her,” Goodwin said. Having never run the play before, Goodwin said, “It wasn’t the smartest play.”
With 129 rushing yards, a 9.9 yards-per-carry average and two touchdowns, Zelee led a Militia rushing attack that totaled 335 yards. Cahill finished the game 5-for-11 for 149 yards and three touchdowns.
The Crash scored twice in the final eight minutes of the game, but it was far too little, far too late. The Militia, however, were not overjoyed with the victory. Goodwin said the defense played “flat.” Both she and Cahill wished the team had played more consistently. Cahill and Zelee both said the team missed scoring opportunities.
“Two weeks, playing two great teams on the road, maybe we just let our foot off the gas,” Cahill said.
“At this point in the season, we want to get better and better each game, which we did prior to this game. We want to go into the championship at our top level. I thought we took a slight step back today, but we’ve got four-ish practices to get it right, and I know we will.”