LA Temptation Derail Dallas Desire and Thomas The Freight Train, 33-32:
For those in attendance, the May 7 game at Citizen Business Bank arena in Ontario between the Dallas Desire and the LA Temptation was certainly a Saturday night treat. It was almost a must win contest for the home team, which badly needed to rebound with a win if they were to have any realistic chance of making the playoffs. It was also an important statement game for the expansion team from Texas, which wanted to prove that they need to be taken seriously as a contender in the LFL Western conference. Although only one team one, both seemed to accomplish their objectives.
Dallas came out with guns blazing … that is with their big guns, in the form of some bruising running from their main offensive weapon, Victoria Thomas, “The Freight Train.” If LA’s defense thought they would have a bit of a respite after having to contend with Seattle’s Stevie “The Bull” Schnoor, they had another thing coming. On the first drive of the game, Thomas rammed her way for some large chunks of yardage, and QB Michelle Angel made things worse for LA with her TD pass to Jane Randall.
LA responded with a nice drive of its own, including effective running from Nas Johnson, but the drive fell just short when Sheri Awagah did not get into the end zone on fourth and goal. For the balance of the quarter, LA’s defense used some effective pressure from Awagah and good coverage schemes to confuse and hurry Angel, a theme that would persist for much of the game.
The tide seemed to turn in the second quarter, as LA QB Jane Caldwell completed a methodical drive down the field with a QB keeper that made the score 7-6. Johnson continued to have her way on the ground, while Cynthia Schmidt contributed with a big reception. However, just as things started to look bleak for the Desire, Angel completed a long bomb to Randall that seemed to take the wind out of LA’s sails. Angel, who been slated to play QB for LA in pre-season before moving over to Dallas, seemed to be on a personal mission to show the Temptation exactly what they had lost when she left, and was by all accounts back on track after this pass.
And things would only get worse for the Temptation after Johnson was stopped short of a first down on LA’s next possession. It was at this point that Thomas The Freight Train took over. With just a few carries, featuring a number of broken tackles and brutal collisions, the powerful running back plowed through the Temptation defense leaving a trail of bodies in her wake, including a collision with Delaney Hall that was no doubt heard in the stadium press box. Lucky to be down only 20-7 at halftime, LA needed to gather itself and regroup.
In the third quarter, things changed right away as Coach Tui made a big change, replacing Caldwell at QB with Kiara Patterson. This move paid instant dividends as a confident Patterson connected with Awageh, and then finished things off with a stunning 25 yard pass to Cynthia Schmidt. After the extra point conversion attempt failed when Thomas stopped an LA run cold, the score was 20-13. This shift in momentum would continue as LA’s defense rose to the occasion, with a big hit on Dallas’ next possession from linebacker Monique Gaxiola on third down and some tight coverage by safety Ogom Chijindu. And on LA’s next possession, Patterson would continue her masterful guidance of the Temptation offense, with a key completion to tight end Awagah, and letting Johnson do the rest, including a touchdown run. After a successful extra point, the score was tied at 20.
For the rest of the third quarter and into the fourth, Dallas would continue to threaten, particularly on the ground, with Thomas, as well as nice gains from the skilled Shawnte Shiree and the speedy Courtney White. Some stout defense by Awagah and Chijindu stopped the Desire, and the Temptation jumped in front 26-20 on a wobbly, but effective, TD pass from Schmidt to Patterson. That’s when things really got interesting.
As she had done before, Angel came up with a huge scoring pass to Courtney White, finding the diminutive, but speedy receiver, over the middle off of a scramble. After a long video review confirmed that White had not gone out of bounds, a shocked Temptation found itself tied at 26, with the extra point conversion looming. The entire arena knew what was coming next … a run by Freight Train Thomas over the right side; but this time LA was ready, as the big Dallas back was gang tackled by about 5 Temptation defenders and brought down a yard short of the goal line. Thomas, herself, was injured on the play (apparently knocked woozy) and was helped off the field, not to return. As a result, the game remained tied at 26.
On LA’s next possession, Patterson and Johnson took over, with LA ultimately taking the lead on a 7 yard QB keeper, making it 33-26, on an extra point conversion run by Johnson. However, Dallas would have one more chance, as Angel would calmly lead the Desire down the field with passes to White, and a 4th down 3 yard completion to Shiree. The nail in the Desire coffin would come on the conversion, when tough defense by Chijindu caused the extra point pass to fall harmlessly incomplete. After an unsuccessful onside kick, the Temptation had their victory, to the delight of a clearly exhausted, but thrilled crowd.
Coach Tui summed it up best with his post-game comments: “I couldn’t be more proud of this team who never gave up and played with resilience, poise, and so much heart! They fought tooth and nail for every yard and every defensive stop against a great Dallas team! Hats off to Coach Bullet and his Desire team for an incredible game and one for the ages…but for now, we’ll take the win .”
Brandon Chabner, LFL360.com beat reporter for LA Temptation/ChabDog Sports Blog