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Women’s Interhall Football: Stadium bound

Allan Joseph and Barrick Bollman | Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Unbeaten Pasquerilla West topped Pangborn in overtime Sunday, 14-13, to earn a berth in the Stadium.

The two teams went into the overtime tied 7-7. A successful extra point conversion by the Purple Weasels won them the game after both teams scored touchdowns in the extra period. Junior quarterback Simone Bigi evaded the Phoxes rush and scrambled into the end zone for the winning point.

“[The win] was awesome, though we definitely had to grind it out,” senior captain Cynthia Curley said.

The Phoxes came out on offense first to begin the game and drove the ball well until a sack and penalty forced a punt to Pasquerilla West, whose drive stalled after a seemingly serious injury to a Purple Weasel receiver.

Pasquerilla West then punted, but a Pangborn returner fielded the punt off a bounce and sprinted down the sideline for an electrifying touchdown, giving the Phoxes a 7-0 lead.

“That rattled us early,” Curley said. “We were in a hole, and that’s not a position we’ve been in often this season.”

Pasquerilla West seemed to be out of its element playing from behind, throwing an interception on the ensuing possession. The Phoxes turned the ball over, but the Purple Weasels threw an interception in the red zone and gave Pangborn the ball at their own 2-yard line. Though the Phoxes had to punt, Pasquerilla West could mount no offense before halftime and the teams went to halftime with Pangborn still leading 7-0.

“At halftime, we had to regroup and refocus,” Curley said.

Partially through the second half, Pasquerilla West faced a fourth-and-five, and Bigi evaded a ferocious Phox rush and completed a long pass to the Pangborn 3-yard line. She ran it in for a touchdown, tying the score 7-7. Neither team could score for the remainder of the game, sending the game to overtime, with the energy and tension palpable on both sidelines.

“It was kind of scary,” Pangborn junior quarterback Gabby Tate admitted. “It’s all come down to these 10 yards.”

Pangborn got the ball first in overtime and was able to score on a touchdown run by Tate, but could not convert the pass for an extra point conversion. The Purple Weasels came onto the field with a confident but slightly nervous air, but Bigi quickly put that to rest with a run for touchdown, setting the stage for the all-important point-after attempt. Bigi dropped back for a pass, slipped the Phox pass rush, and scrambled into the end zone to win the game for the Purple Weasels, as their sideline rushed the field in celebration.

Curley credited her defensive line for holding Tate in check and the Purple Weasel receivers for stepping up when injuries called for them to do so. Pasquerilla West now turns its focus to Howard next week in the championship.

“We are thrilled to be playing Howard,” Curley said. “There’s a lot of hype around these teams, but when you get to the game, all of the hype melts away.

“Both teams are really going to want it. The better team is going to come out on top.”

Howard 12, Walsh 7

After outlasting Walsh 12-7 Sunday, Howard will make its first trip to the Stadium in dorm history next week.

As the Wild Women mounted a potential game-winning drive with time running down, Howard’s all-around athlete junior Kayla Bishop intercepted Walsh junior Amy Langnecker’s pass to seal the victory for the Ducks.

During the first half, both teams were unable to score in an even defensive battle. Several chances for both teams were negated by penalties. With five starters missing, Walsh expected the early going to be rough, but the Wild Women came up with two big fourth down stops when Howard was in scoring position.

“The defense was doing very well, but our offense just couldn’t convert in the red zone early,” Howard senior Mary Jenkins said.

In the second half, however, both teams offense’s exploded into action. Howard got on the board first in a three-play drive, led by the legs and the arms of Bishop at quarterback.

Although they had not established much offense until this point, the Wild Women responded in convincing fashion, led by senior wide out Sarah Smith. Smith showed excellent running ability after the catch, moving Walsh into Howard territory. The play of the drive, however, was junior wide receiver Amy Schnazer’s grab on a deep bomb by Langnecker. Schnazer jumped over Howard sophomore safety Caroline Walsh to make the catch and held on to the ball as the Howard defense tried to force the fumble. Langnecker then took the ball in for the score. The Wild Women converted the extra point to go up 7-6.

On the ensuing possession, the Howard offense drove down the field through a series of short passes and quarterback runs. Howard then resorted to some trickery, hitting Jenkins on the tackle screen. After a short completion, Bishop scored on a quarterback scramble to go up 12-7.

“In the second half, Walsh started to pick it up, and we responded,” Jenkins said. “Our offense started clicking. It was intense and exciting.”

Walsh’s chance to win evaporated with Bishop’s interception and the Duck’s were able to close out the game on a knee.

“We came out and played hard those last two drives,”   Smith said. “Unfortunately, it didn’t work in our favor. Howard is a great team and we wish them the best of luck in the Stadium.”

With the victory, Howard will take on Pasquerilla West in a clash of unbeatens for the championship.

“We are just happy and excited to go to the stadium with the two best teams in both leagues facing each other,” Jenkins said.