After Boston Militia tailback Whitney Zelee charged into the end zone for her second time of the half on a 35-yard burst down the sideline, the D.C. Divas found themselves down 14 with just 5 minutes, 26 seconds left on the clock.
But then the offense that had been largely stagnant all game suddenly sparked to life behind the miniature hands of 5-foot, 6-inch wide receiver Ashley Whisonant. The former point guard at the University of Arizona hauled in three of her 17 receptions on the ensuing drive to set up a second and short on the Militia 11-yard line.
Running out of time, Divas quarterback Allyson Hamlin floated a pass to the left corner of the end zone where Tara Stephenson was able to corral it in on a diving grab, dragging her feet as she went. The two-point conversion was good and the fans at the Prince George’s Sports and Learning Complex were back on their feet.
The conversion, which drew the game to 24-18, was followed by one of the more bizarre events in sports. D.C. kicker Kris Simon sent a booming kick far out of the reach of Boston returner Asia Landrum. The Militia returner chased down the bouncing ball as it rolled into the end zone while the Divas’ coverage team barreled downfield. But instead of picking it up and kneeing it for a touchback, Landrum just stared at it.
“I honestly didn’t know what she was doing,” said Whisonant after the game.
Seconds later a trio of Divas was on top of Landrum and paused for a second, seemingly confused as to why the Militia returner opted not to pick the ball up, and then pounced on it, giving D.C. another touchdown.
So in a matter of technically zero seconds of play, the Divas had scored 15 points and taken their first lead of the game, 25-24, with 3:15 left on the clock.
“I think we were a little confused too,” said Whisonant, laughing.
But Zelee remained as unstoppable as she had been for the first 54 minutes of the contest. Four plays after the Divas stole the lead and every drop of momentum, the speedy tailback was at it again, this time bouncing out to the left side and burning past a sluggish D.C. secondary for a 38-yard touchdown, her third of the half. She finished with 237 yards on the game.
“They were national champs last year,” Hamlin said. “It’s been a very, very strong rivalry to say the least. There’s no love lost between us.”
Hamlin engineered a nine-play drive in the remaining 1:48 behind another barrage of catches from Whisonant, but she couldn’t find her favorite target as the game ended and was swamped by a mess of Militia lineman.
“This week and last week we were pretty good in the second half,” Divas coach Alison Fischer said. “We fight, we don’t give in. That’s our motto.”
The Divas dropped to 4-3 on the season but still have a shot at the division title next weekend at Columbus where they will see a winless Comets team, although they have only reported three games thus far this season.
A win will earn the Divas a first round bye in the playoffs which would have them back at the Sports and Learning Complex on June 30.
“We did our job in Pittsburgh last week, we have to do it again next week,” Hamlin said. “We have legitimately as good a shot as anybody out there and we proved it tonight.”
Boston 3 7 7 15 32
D.C. 0 3 7 15 25B: Danielle Resha 21-yard field goal.
B: Stacey Tiamfook 1-yard run. Resha kick.
D.C.: Kris Simon 28-yard field goal.
B: Zelee 12-yard run. Resha kick.
D.C.: Grigsby 2-yard run. Simon kick.
B: Zelee 35-yard run. Resha kick.
D.C.: Hamlin 11-yard pass to Stephenson. Grigsby run good.
D.C.: Scott fumble recovery. Simon kick.
B: Zelee 38-yard run. Donaldson run good.
Leading rushers: B—Whitney Zelee 19-237-3; Asia Landrum 7-41; Stacey Tiamfook 7-30-1; Dorothy Donaldson 4-17; Allison Cahill 1- (-)12. DC—Kenyetta Grigsby 15-32-1; Tara Stephenson 2-23; Allyson Hamlin 3-18; Okiima Pickett 1-3; Lindsay Sollers 1-2.
Leading passers: B—Allison Cahill 7-12-44. DC—Allyson Hamlin 24-38-209-1.
Leading receivers: B—Adrienne Smith 1-23; Whitney Zelee 3-19; Asia Landrum 1-5; Kathryn Tylander 1-5; Amy Saur 1- (-)2. DC—Ashley Whisonant 17-127; Tara Stephenson 5-60-1; Kenyetta Grigsby 1-19; Monecho McMillon 1-8.