In an intense and heated battle worthy of all the pre-game hype, the defending champion Seattle Mist came into Citizens Bank Arena and held on for a hard fought 20-12 win over the Los Angeles Temptation, reinforcing the prevailing opinion around the league that they are still the team to beat in the Legends Football League. Simply put, the Mist was resourceful, poised and effective when it needed to be. But for moments there in a very exciting second half it looked like all of that first half dominance might not be enough, as a scrappy, resourceful Temptation squad clawed its way back into the game.
Seattle set the tone early on in the first period, when they methodically drove down the field behind their savvy QB KK Methany, rugged running back Stevie “The Bull” Schnoor, lightning quick Dominque Melloy, and the versatile wide out Bryne Renda. After a Methany touchdown pass, LA found itself in a 7-0 hole, but managed to dig itself out afterTemptation QB Jane Caldwell connected in the end zone with Sheri Awageh. Unfortunately for the home team, a failed 2-point conversion still left LA trailing 7-6.
For the remainder of the first half, Seattle continued to put consistent pressure on the Temptation defense, utilizing a combination of pounding on the ground from Schnoor, the threat of a speed burst by Malloy, and the deft touch of scrambler Methany, who consistently bought time and found open receivers, despite pressure from Megan Hanson, Sheri Awageh and other Temptation rushers. LA’s frustration seemed to culminate when Jessica Hopkins came up with a touchdown catch of a tipped pass to give Seattle a 20-6 lead. There was some positive news for the Temptation going into halftime, however, as the defense stopped Seattle from getting another score, followed up by an LA drive (powered by a long scramble by QB Jane Caldwell) that took the ball down to the Seattle 15 – only to see the Temptation run out of time.
At the start of the second half, LA Coach Tui Suiaunoa made some key adjustments, electing to sit Caldwell – who had been intercepted and missed some open receivers in the first half – and instead going with back up QB Kiara Patterson. The change seemed to work, and after two completions to Awageh and a nice run by Patterson the team found itself knocking at the door of the Seattle end zone. Unfortunately for the home team, disaster soon struck in the form of two lost hikes from the shotgun, with the second leading to a Seattle recovery inside the LA ten. But to the Temptation’s credit, they did not panic, and instead, the defense stopped Seattle dead in its tracks, keeping the game a two-score contest. As noted by Tui, an important adjustment was his bringing in Delaney Hall as safety, which shored up the pass defense and seemed to throw a monkey wrench into the Mist aerial attack. This change, combined with some serious heat still being brought by Hansen and Awageh forced a number of errant throws by the normally reliable Methany.
When the Temptation returned to the field later in the third quarter, it was time for running back Naz Johnson took over. Johnson’s gutty TD run early in the 4th quarter sent the crowd into a frenzy, capping an impressive drive that featured not only her hard-nosed rushing but also Caldwell pass connections to Awageh. After another failed extra point conversion by LA, the score was 20-12. The excitement and anticipation for a Temptation comeback culminated later in the final quarter with a huge sack by Hansen,and more misfires by Methany. LA then got the ball back and marched down the field, reaching Seattle’s eight yard line thanks to a pass interference penalty. But the rally fell short, as the Temptation found themselves one yard short of the goal line on fourth down, and that’s when Seattle and its bruising running game took over. The Mist proceeded to kill off the clock, keeping the ball mostly in the hands of the trusty, bulldozer Schnoor.
What a great way to kick off LFL football in Los Angeles. For all those in attendance, it was an intense, hard hitting affair that lived up to its lofty billing. Perhaps we will be fortunate to see a rematch later this year in the playoffs. For now, Coach Tui will be turning his attention to preparing for Dallas, which comes to town in two weeks (on May 7). Commented Tui, “This game was clearly a wake-up call for us. Against a tough opponent like Seattle, you can’t shoot yourself in the foot with the type of mistakes and penalties we saw out there. Particularly, in the first half, I felt like we got a bit lost in the moment, and forgot some of the basic things we had been working on in practice leading up to the game. But I loved our resilience and never-say-die attitude and the way we fought our way back into the game. Our defense really did play their hearts out in the second half, and Jane did a nice job settling down as the game wore on. We should be in good shape going into the next home game against Dallas, and you know the motivation will be there, given the team’s history with Dallas QB Michelle Angel. Get ready for some fireworks!”