The Seattle Mist (4-1) are officially the Western Conference Regular Season Champs after slamming a desperate Las Vegas Sin squad 64-19. Their quarterback, KK Matheny, continues to become somewhat of a legend within the confines of the ShoWare Center in Kent, Washington. The Mist will now begin to prepare for their tough Legends Football League playoff opponent and rival, the LA Temptation, where a Seattle victory would provide the loyal Mist fans a Seattle Mist Legends Cup appearance at home in Seattle.
The Las Vegas Sin (0-4-1) entered this game with the right mindset and willingness to play their hearts out, but were quickly victimized by Seattle’s superior firepower on offense. Young quarterback Sindy Cummings gave a valiant effort, but ultimately couldn’t trade touchdowns with Seattle after Vegas had pinned their hat on a run-heavy season. The Sin will now head home and begin looking for answers on becoming a better football team.
When both the Seattle Mist and Las Vegas Sin took to the field for pregame warm-ups, there was a playoff-type atmosphere surrounding the game. It felt as though either team could win, but from the opening kickoff, Seattle began to dominate in convincing fashion as they came up just eight yards shy of returning the opening kick for a touchdown. On the ensuing drive, the Mist would indeed score a touchdown as a perfect combination of passing and the strong legs of Stevi Schnoor proved too much for a Sin defense that found themselves pinned against the wall early.
Quickly finding themselves down 7-0 with 7:42 still remaining in the first quarter, the Sin would do their best to even the score as quarterback Sindy Cummings led her troops onto the field. On their first offensive play from scrimmage, a hand-off to running back Dominique Maloy would change the complexion of the game as Seattle’s home crowd watched her sprint down the sidelines for a touchdown. The Sin would be flagged for a delay of game on the extra point try, as their attempt to even the score failed. Perhaps it was the first sign of a talented but inexperienced team folding under pressure as the Mist led the Sin 7-6. Penalties, turnovers and missed assignments were all issues for the Sin Saturday night.
On the opening play of the next drive for Seattle, quarterback KK Matheny launched a MVP-caliber bomb for a completion to Bryn Renda that went for 29 yards. For Mist fans, Matheny is becoming somewhat of a legend for her ability to stand in the pocket and deliver laser strikes under pressure. The Sin would bring heat, but KK Matheny was able to easily avoid the rush while finding an open Danika Brace for another Mist touchdown. Seattle held a 14-6 lead with 4:32 remaining in the first.
When their next drive began, it became evident that the Las Vegas Sin had entered the game intending to ride the strong running attack of Dominique Maloy. After allowing a huge run early, the Mist seemed to adjust well and started to swarm her at the line of scrimmage. Further proving that an experienced Seattle Mist coaching staff had planned to force the Sin and their young quarterback to beat them through the air.
Seattle took over with 2:32 still on the clock in the first, quickly striking for yet another Danika Brace touchdown on pass that went for 20 yards. Matheny and the Mist’s receiving group overwhelmed the Sin’s secondary, looking like a game of pitch and catch at times. With just over two minutes to play in the first quarter, the Las Vegas defense appeared beat and bewildered. They had put their inexperienced quarterback and the Sin’s offense in the worst possible position. Las Vegas would now need to mount a serious comeback against, perhaps, the league’s most dynamic team. Sindy Cummings may have been the more inexperienced quarterback, but she quickly answered the bell with a deep pass on the Sin’s next offensive play that struck for a 35 yard touchdown to Cynthia Schmidt, pulling her team a little closer as they still hoped to finish the season with a win. This deep pass from Cummings to Schmidt is something Las Vegas fans would love to see in seasons to come as the young offense is still trying to live up to their potential.
We knew that the Sin would need to enter this game with explosive shoulder pads on defense if they were to have a chance, and Las Vegas did just that. As the Mist began to lean on Stevi Schnoor and the running game, they found the Sin very tough up front. The Mist quickly shifted gears, however, and began sending three receivers out wide to expose a Sin secondary that appeared to be slow to respond. The Sin then pushed their way into the pocket with pressure from the defensive front but Vegas’ secondary once again found itself torched as Mist quarterback KK Matheny scrambled around to buy herself a bit of time before connecting for a touchdown with tight-end Lashaunda Fowler to take a 28-13 lead. Moments later, Fowler would run for two more points as the Mist gave her a hand-off from 3 yards out. Further pumping doubt into the hearts of everyone on the Sin sideline.
Just minutes into the second quarter, Las Vegas would have a tall order in front of them if they hoped to finish the season with a win. Their quarterback, Sindy Cummings, may have been short on experience heading into the game but she certainly has the tools to be one of the league’s best and has never lacked confidence. Quickly huddling her squad, Cummings looked poised and prepared to do what needed to be done. After overthrowing a receiver and appearing to be out of sync with her running back on a play action, the Sin’s inexperience in the passing game began to show. Cummings did keep the drive alive with a gutsy scramble for big yardage, followed by a hand-off to Dominique Maloy which resulted in a touchdown. However a holding call against tight-end Adrienne Kopko would bring the touchdown back and deflate any momentum the Sin had. Cummings would go deep just a few plays later, only to be picked-off by Seattle’s rookie Fadi Findling. This was the first of two interceptions thrown by Cummings, a quarterback who did not throw a single interception in 2014 during her rookie season.
Recognizing they were in command of the game and needed to remain as healthy as possible, Seattle began to establish a running game. Using a variety of plays, Mele Gilmore, began running the football into the teeth of an over matched Sin front line for big yardage. The Mist would score a touchdown with a well-designed quick pitch to tight-end Danika Brace but a failed attempt from 3 yards out would leave the Mist with an overwhelming 36-13 lead.
Showing signs of desperation, the Sin took the field on the very next play and went deep as quarterback Sindy Cummings forced it into coverage and paid the price with her second interception of the night into the hands of safety Jessica Hopkins. Showing a bit of trickery, Seattle would open their following offensive drive with an end-around to Bryn Renda that turned into a wide-receiver pass as Renda found wide-receiver Jessica Hopkins for a 30 yard Mist touchdown completion. For NFL fans the play might have a little resemblance to the Pittsburgh Steeler’s play, where wide-receiver Antwaan Randle El completed a 43-yard touchdown pass to Hines Ward, during Super Bowl XL. For Seattle fans that play probably brings back sadness as the Steelers went on to beat the Seahawks 21-10.
Shortly before halftime, Las Vegas would watch quarterback Sindy Cummings being helped off of the field and favoring her right leg after a brutal hit by several Seattle defenders. After her exit, the Sin would see a quarterback by committee as they turned the football over on downs. Following another quick Mist touchdown by Stevi Schnoor from six yards out, Seattle would go into halftime with a 50-13 lead over the Sin.
In a game where Seattle featured two veteran late-season signings, with Theresa Petruzielo and Jena Weiss and also trying to stay healthy with no injuries before the playoffs, Seattle was in position with their large lead to get other personnel playing time during the second half.
The Sin would get quarterback Sindy Cummings back following halftime, which gave the fans of Las Vegas just a bit of hope. To her credit, not only did Cummings fight through injury to return to the game, she had several impressive runs throughout the third quarter and it was easy to see that she truly was doing everything in her power to somehow dig the Sin out of such a deep hole. The Seattle coaching staff played the perfect defensive scenario though, expecting a comeback attempt through the air. The Sin were able to break some chunks off on the ground as both Cummings and Maloy ran hard, but ultimately, the third quarter ended with much of the same feeling. The Seattle Mist were beating the Las Vegas Sin by a score of 50-19 and showing no signs of weakness.
As the fourth quarter approached, the lights dimmed throughout Seattle’s ShoWare Center. For the Mist, it added a sense of pageantry to a game in which they had dominated throughout. Las Vegas seemed to respond a bit differently, understanding the urgency and the fact that they were only ten minutes away from the end of their 2015 season, should the Mist hold on to win it.
Again, credit goes to Seattle’s coaching staff for realizing they were in charge of the ball game and pulling quarterback KK Matheny to avoid injury. Kadi Findling took over as the Mist’s signal-caller and she would be tasked with managing the football game accordingly. When a score of 58-19 took hold, Seattle did the obvious and began platooning their depth into the game while resting their starters for a playoff match-up with the Los Angeles Temptation. With just under five minutes to play, frustration finally caught up with the Sin players who began taking things personally. Shoving matches broke out on the field for several moments until referees could intervene, which is expected when a team’s hope of a win begin to flicker away.
With four minutes left in the ballgame, KK Matheny could be seen dancing on the wall which divided her from her growing legion of believers while at the two minute mark, Matheny entered the stands to personally celebrate a playoff birth with the fans of Seattle. Danika Brace would do the same nearly a minute later, stopping to pose for pictures with many of the die-hard fans in attendance.
Theresa Petruzielo, who is know for her receiving ability and pass coverage, made a big impact in her first game back this season as she finished the night with two solo tackles and five assisted tackles, leading the category on defense for the Mist. Quarterback KK Matheny also had a another big night, completing 10 of her 16 passes for 116 yards with 3 touchdowns. She’ll now prepare to lead her Mist offense in the playoffs against a Los Angeles Temptation defense that will be ready and waiting.
The Western Conference regular season is final and stands Seattle 4-1, Los Angeles 3-2-1, and Las Vegas 0-4-1. Seattle and Los Angeles now have one weeks to prepare for the Western Conference Championship, that takes place in Chicago, Illinois on August 15th.
– Text by John M. Davis, originally posted on LFL360.com
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