The Montreal Blitz disposed of the Baltimore Nighthawks rather easily in the Independent Women’s Football League (IWFL) quarterfinals on June 30 at École secondaire Dalbé Viau inLachine.
Faced with a more potent adversary than most teams it faced during the regular season, the Blitz was able to prevail offensively in the first half and then went on to play a more careful running game in the second half to run the clock until the end.
Looking to open the score early on, the Blitz made its way toBaltimore’s 10-yard line three minutes into the game, but they couldn’t convert a field goal opportunity. After having driven the Blitz back to mid-field on the ensuing possession, Nighthawks quarterback Lil Drumgold fumbled the ball which was recovered by Blitz safety Jade Abboud. As she had done many times during the season, Abboud raced right through half the field for the touchdown at 8:14 of the first quarter.
Determined not to let the Nighthawks breathe, the Blitz defence completely shut downBaltimoreon its next possession. Forced to punt at their 27-yard line, outside linebacker Erika Blais caught the punt and ran it back toBaltimore’s 23-yard line, leaving the Blitz offence with a short field to play with.
With wide receiver Georgina Paull wide open 10 yards away from the end zone, quarterback Saadia Ashraf threw a perfect pass, leading to another touchdown for the Blitz which led 13-0 after the conversion.
Again unable to get out of their own end, the Nighthawks turned the ball over to the Blitz with two minutes to go in the first quarter. On first down, Paull caught an easy pass from Ashraf but was roughed up by aBaltimoreplayer as she was pulled down by the facemask. This cost the Nighthawks a 15-yard penalty and put the Blitz in a good position to score again with a second-and-goal opportunity.
Wide receiver Alia Palmer caught Ashraf’s pass on the next play and scored easily. After one quarter of play, the Blitz was leading 20-0.
Even though the Blitz kept on dominating in the second quarter, Ashraf’s passing game was well-countered byBaltimore’s defence who intercepted the ball twice and kept the Blitz from adding to its lead and forced the team to focus on a running game in the second half.
“They’re bigger and faster than the teams we’re used to face. In the second half we wanted to control the ball more because I was having the best throwing game. I don’t usually throw picks and I threw two in the first half,” said Ashraf.
Ten minutes into the third quarter, the Blitz took back possession of the ball at Baltimore’s 28-yard line. With three consecutive runs, running backs Melina Gendron and Sophie Roy set the stage for Marie-Claude Vincent who punched through the Nighthawks’ defence from the three-yard line with 1:16 left in the third quarter making the score 26-0. A late Nighthawks’ tscore put them on the board, but the game was effectively over early on.
“We turned the ball over too many times. We turned the ball over five times and gave them five free possessions,” saidBaltimorehead coach Jason White.
Blitz head coach Pierre Migner was really proud of his players after the game.
“The girls really took up the challenge. We beat a division champion tonight. We were able to control their offence. Our defence continues to do the job. It wasn’t easy but our next game againstHoustonwon’t be easy either,” he said.
The Blitz will play the Houston Energy of the South Atlantic division in the IWFL semi-finals on Saturday again in Lachine.