Saturday, June 11, 2016
By Meg Kelly
SOMERVILLE, Mass. – In its opening game of the 2016 WFA playoffs, the Boston Renegades used a two-touchdown effort from wide receiver Adrienne Smith #10 and a stifling defensive performance to outlast the Cleveland Fusion, 19-13, Saturday night at Dilboy Stadium.
Smith notched a pair of scores on passes from quarterback Chante Bonds #21, while running back Erica Adams #47 found the end zone on the ground.
Despite going three-and-out on its opening drive, Boston gained momentum on defense as safety Brooke Gause #6 picked off Cleveland quarterback Keri Palma and returned the ball 38 yards into Fusion territory.
Kicker Brooke Goodman #97 narrowly missed a 28-yard field goal that struck the crossbar, but the Renegades were able to put points on the board on their next possession. From 15 yards out, Bonds tossed a screen pass to Smith, who followed blocks by Jessica Cabrera #54 and Ashley Beckham #80 to reach the end zone with a diving effort. Boston took the lead, 6-0. With time winding down, nose tackle Laura Pula #53 and linebacker Kristen Sarson #67 combined on a tackle for a loss, and defensive end Erin Diette #30 notched a sack to close out the opening frame. The Renegades forced Cleveland to turnover on downs to start the second stanza.
Although the Fusion had more success advancing the ball in the second quarter than they did in the first, they were still unable to put any points on the scoreboard against the Renegades’ stifling defense. Midway through the quarter, Boston extended its lead with a big play. After grabbing a perfectly placed pass from Bonds on a slant route, Smith blew past four Cleveland defenders taking it 66 yards to the house. Following a successful PAT by Goodman, Boston lead 13-0 for the remainder of the first half.
Boston opened the second half with a surprise onside kick and Briannah Gallo #24 recovered the football on Boston’s 44-yard line. Though the Renegades were unable to score points on the drive, the recovery of the onside kick did take a potential possession away from their opponent.
With their chances growing fewer, Cleveland put together a five-minute, 69-yard drive and narrowed the gap to 13-6 as Palma found Maria Jackson #81 in the end zone on fourth and goal from the 15.
Not to be outdone, the Renegades responded on its ensuing possession, driving 65 yards culminating in a short touchdown rush by Erika Adams #47. A Cleveland lineman had sniffed out the play and was in position to catch the rusher in the backfield. But Adams, pressed into action at tailback, eluded the would-be tackler, hit her gap and followed blocks by Vicky Eddy #45 and Cabrera to put Boston ahead, 19-6. Cleveland was unable to strike back as they stalled and turned the ball over on downs just before the third period came to a close.
The Fusion got another chance on their next possession as they put together a 21-play, 77-yard drive highlighted by a 31-yard pass play to Jackson. To cap it off, Cleveland tight end Valerie Riley found paydirt with just over three minutes to go, whittling Boston’s lead down to a single possession, 19-13. With time waning, Cleveland attempted an onside kick of their own, but it went out of bounds and Boston gained possession. The Renegades ran down the clock, with a first-down rush by Smith ultimately sealing the game.
Boston advances to the conference semifinals on June 25, when they will travel to play the Chicago Force.
|Dilboy Stadium, Somerville, Mass.||1||2||3||4||F|
Game Day Captains: LB Nicole Buechler #40 and OL Ashley Beckham #80
Previous game: 55-7 loss to D.C. Divas at Wilson Stadium, 6/4/2016
Previous game vs. opponent: 47-18 victory at Dilboy Stadium, 5/7/2016
Previous game at site: 58-14 loss to Chicago Force, 5/21/2016
Franchise record vs. opponent: 4-0