The ShoWare Center in Kent, Washington was packed on Friday night, as Legends Football League fans witnessed the first of three regular season games between the long-time rivals Los Angeles Temptation and Seattle Mist. In a game that featured two of the most veteran quarterbacks in the league, LA’s Ashley Salerno and Seattle’s KK Matheny, most in attendance were expecting a lot of offense and a high scoring game.
The Temptation had put on an offensive clinic just six days prior, scoring 46 points in the second-half against the Las Vegas Sin, in their 59-24 victory. However, the ShoWare Center witnessed a defensive battle as both teams had a tough time in the red-zone Friday night. Maybe the presence of the Seattle Seahawk’s strong-safety and defensive great Kam Chancellor, inspired both team’s defenses Friday night, as he was introduced to the crowd at midfield before the game.
Also in attendance Friday night was the big-personality and lovely ‘Mama Lynch’ (mother of Marshawn ‘Beastmode’ Lynch) who performed the game’s coin-toss, joining the team captains and head referee. The Seattle fans were thrilled to see the Seahawk’s a part of the atmosphere Friday night, coming out to support the Mist. Seattle fans are known for their ’12th Man’ presence during the Seahawk’s home-games, and the proud supporters of the Mist bring that same intensity and noise to the ShoWare Center. Even the popular fan ‘Mr. Mohawk’, who has become known and featured during Seahawk games, was in the Mist party-zone on Friday night.
Despite the lack of scoring on Friday night, the game was trilling with big pass plays, costly turnovers, and big hits. Seattle started the game on offense from their own 16 yard-line after an 11-yard Jessica Hopkins kick-off return. Running-back Stevi Schnoor got Seattle started on an 8-yard rush when the defensive tone was set for the night on a big hit by LA’s Danielle Harvey and Michelle Angel at midfield. By this point, the exchange of banter and trash-talk had already began between Los Angeles and Seattle.
A few plays later on LA’s 14 yard-line, after a Matheny 6-yard pass completion to tight-end Danika Brace, Mathey targeted Brace again this time with an overthrow right into the hands of LA’s safety Michelle Angel, who upon making a return, had the ball stripped by Brace and recovered by Seattle’s Stevi Schnoor. There was a brief sigh of relief and a roar of cheers after the play as Seattle regained possession from the LA 18 yard-line.
The Mist marched down to the 3 yard-line after two nice gains by running-back Stevi Schnoor. After a Matheny pass completion to Lashauda Fowler was just a yard short of the goal-line, the very next play Fowler followed her blockers on the left side as she found the end-zone, with 4:07 remaining in the first quarter. After Jessica Hopkins converted an extra-point run, the Mist took a 7-0 lead on the Temptation.
It did not take long for the Ashley Salerno lead, Los Angeles offense to answer. After a few nice gains and getting to the Seattle 24 yard-line, Salerno connected for her first completion of the game to a wide-open Christina Sagarminaga who got past distracted corner-back Megan Hanson on a 24-yard touchdown pass, with 1:24 remaining in the first quarter. The Seattle secondary was out of position as safety Lily Granston was a yard behind linebacker Danika Brace as she crept forward expecting a run from the in-motion Bourseau, when the ball was snapped. This undisciplined style defense where the secondary is guessing on pass or run is something that coach Michaelson was not thrilled with at half-time. The extra-point run attempt was failed by Ashley Salerno, leaving the Mist up 7-6.
Seattle had a quick turnover on downs after a four and out. LA took over at the Seattle 16 yard-line with 9:46 remaining in the second quarter. The Mist defense had a great set of plays for their red-zone stop with a big open-field tackle by rookie Kadi Findling and a hard hit by Danika Brace. On fourth-down Lily Granston tackled Ashley Salerno for a 7-yard loss where Seattle began the next series from their own 16 yard-line with 7:49 remaining in the half.
Seattle’s next drive was all Stevi Schnoor as she had one reception and four rushes bringing the Mist to LA’s 2 yard-line. On second and goal Matheny found Danika Brace in the end-zone for the score, putting Seattle up 13-6 on LA with 3:22 remaining at half. The Hopkins extra-point rush attempt failed.
The next offensive series started out ugly for the Temptation. After a Deanna Schapper-Kotter sack on Salerno, an incomplete pass, and a 5-yard Bourseau rush, the Temptation had a fourth and 12 from their own 13 yard-line when Salerno connected with Monika Jaramillo for a 37-yard touchdown completion with 1:53 remaining. This was no doubt the biggest play of the game and biggest let down by the Seattle defense who had a great performance. Salerno’s ability this season to find her receivers down-field for long touchdowns has been huge for their success so far.
After a completed 2-point extra-point attempt on a Salerno pass to Michelle Angel, the Temptation lead the Mist by a score of 14-13.
Seattle was able to drive down the field on eight plays getting to the LA 6 yardline. On 2nd and 4, Seattle was called for a delay of game which was a costly penalty for the veteran quarterback KK Matheny, as the ball was now placed on the 11 yard-line with 4.6 second remaining in the half. The next play Matheny rolled out and targeted Bryn Renda, but overthrew her receiver as the time clock expired.
At half, neither team’s coaches were satisfied or pleased with their team’s performance. In the first-half defensive battle, giving up big plays or penalties was each team’s culprit.
After half, Seattle kicked off to Los Angeles who had a four and out. Seattle put together a nice drive from their 20-yard line, getting down to LA’s 2, but another delay of game penalty put them back five yards to the seven yard-line. After an incomplete pass, Matheny fumbled on 3rd and goal which was recovered by the Temptation’s safety Danielle Harvey.
Seattle’s defense stood the test again, forcing a turnover on downs after four plays, as the fourth quarter began. Safety, Lily Granston’s presence was huge that defensive series as she stepped up big with nice tackles.
Early in the fourth quarter, Seattle again failed to convert from inside the red-zone. Making that the fourth failed attempt on the night inside the red-zone, leaving crucial points off the board.
LA took over with 5:31 remaining in the game and looked to eat up as much clock as possible and find the end-zone. During a drive that already took 3:14 off the clock, Bourseau fumbled on 3rd and 11 turning the ball over to Seattle at the LA 12 yard-line. A thrilling finish was envisioned by Seattle fans as they cheered on their Mist who were inside the red-zone with just over two minutes remaining.
On 3rd and 5 the stadium erupted with cheer as KK Matheny appeared to connect with Bryn Renda, but she had the ball knocked loose for an incomplete pass. A booth-review confirmed the call and Seattle had 4th and 5 with 1:04 remaining.
After the review, with everyone in the stadium on their feet, Matheny took the snap from shotgun and found the open receiver Danika Brace, but because the pass was a little late and off target, Brace was stopped at the wall just short of the first down by safety Michelle Angel and corner-back Chelsey Haardt.
LA took over on offense at their three yard-line and after two victory formations, there was no time left on the clock. A huge defensive performance, especially in the second-half ended with LA edging Seattle, to remain undefeated at 2-0.
The most valuable player had to be the LA defense in the second-half, as they defended very well in the red-zone. LA’s defensive line played very well in the second-half, but their secondary was the big reason they won, shutting down Bryn Renda. Matheny was 11 of 24 passing for 38 yards and only one of those completions was to her big, talented target Bryn Renda. Chelsey Haardt did a great job of checking the receivers early in their routes and Michelle Angel and Danielle Harvey played extremely well covering Seattle down field. Corner-back Ogom Chijindu also stepped big with three solo and three assisted tackles in the game.
The Western Conference, after Friday night’s game stands at Los Angeles 2-0, Vegas 0-1, and Seattle 0-1. In just two Western Conference games this season, LFL fans have witnessed more balance on offense with 42% of the total offensive plays resulting in a pass attempt, compared to the Eastern Conference’s 31%. Just like in the NFL, fans love and glorify the passing game and the LFL wants to show fans that same excitement. Over the last 44 years, the NFL has seen the league pass ratio go from 48% to 56%, and some season’s reaching nearly 58%. The seconds during which the ball is in the air, always has fans holding their breath and at the edge of their seats. Seattle, Vegas and Atlanta each have delivered a pass ratio of 50% or more this season, and the LFL would love to one day have a league average over 50% to provide that same excitement that NFL football fans enjoy.
– Text by Colton Cull, originally posted on LFL360.com
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