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(ROCKFORD, IL – Saturday, August 6) Across every sport and league, there are certain match-ups that are hyped throughout the season such as NBA’s Christmas Day games or the NHL’s Winter Classic, however, few live up to the hype. On Saturday night in Rockford, Illinois a pair of undefeated teams in the Chicago Blitz and Seattle Thunder certainly delivered on all the attention that was placed on this game. The Blitz coming off an overtime win in Kansas City while the Thunder demolished the Denver Rush in their previous appearance.

There were certainly a lot of keys to this game such as perhaps the best offense in the X League with the Seattle Thunder matching up against the best defense with the Chicago Blitz. Certainly an interesting coaching match-up with an established and well-respected head coach Chris Michaelson going up against one of the game’s rising stars in Sid Lewis of Chicago.

Another question was ‘Is Chicago QB Stephanie Raymond truly as good as her season-opening performance?’. Raymond wasted no time answering that question as Chicago’s offense scored on its opening drive as Raymond connected with one of the league’s best receivers Tamika Robinson on a 19yd touchdown to give the Blitz an early 7-0 lead.

The 6.5pt favorite Seattle Thunder and its explosive offense would answer with Quarterback KK Matheny engineering a 9-play drive that chewed up 6:50 however the league’s most-talented defense did not break, they bowed their necks and the Seattle drive would fizzle after a 4th & 10 incompletion at the Chicago 13yd line. In the 2nd Quarter Seattle’s offense would finally show off its fire-power as Running Back Janetra ’Nene’ Gleaves would score from 4 yards out to draw Seattle closer at 6-7.

The back and forth heavyweight bout would continue as Chicago’s offense responded with Raymond connecting on her 2nd touchdown pass of the 1st half, this time a 6yd pass to LaBrenthia Murdock to extend the Blitz’s lead to 13-6. Prior to the end of the 1st half with only 0:24 seconds remaining, one of the league’s ‘Live Arms’, KK Matheny would strike finding her favorite target Kiarra Williams for a 37-yard touchdown and with the 2pt conversion, Seattle would take the lead going into Halftime at 14-13.

Despite being down a 1pt at Halftime the Chicago Blitz were feeling very good about their chances as some projected Seattle could easily run away with this game in the 1st half after its 84pt performance earlier in the season. However, offensive coordinator and head coach Chris Michaelson understood he was in a dogfight with a team in the Chicago Blitz that was starting to believe in itself.

In the 3rd Quarter the Seattle offense on its opening drive would once again manage an extended 10-play drive but would yet again stall out as Blitz Safety Emma Vanderheyden playing in front of her hometown fans would deflect a 4th & 8 Matheny to Stacey Jackman pass as the Chicago defense would once again bend but not break. The only score of the 3rd Quarter came when the hometown hero Raymond would throw her 3rd touchdown of the night and her 2nd to Murdock on a 6yd touchdown pass to regain the lead at 20-14.

Heading into the 4th Quarter the stage was set, for Chicago, if it can hold on to its lead and register the season’s biggest upset win of the year, it would advance of the Playoffs. For Seattle, it was an opportunity to advance to the Playoffs as the No.1 seed in front of its home crowd on August 27.

Both Quarterbacks would step up in the 4th Quarter, first, it was the veteran KK Matheny orchestrating another extended drive that took up 5:53 (over half of the 4th Quarter) but this time the Thunder offense would close the deal as Matheny would find her Tight End Savannah Wood on a 10yd touchdown connection, which would tie the game at 20-20.

This was where you would get your popcorn ready, as little under 5 minutes remained in the ‘Game of the Year’, with both teams being tied at 20-20. Who would become the hero of the moment?

The Rockford-native Raymond once again placed all the pressure on her right arm, throwing her 4th touchdown on the night, once again connecting with a streaking Tamika Robinson with a 19yd touchdown with 1:54 remaining in the game and Chicago taking a 26-20 lead. There are few Quarterbacks that you would feel uneasy facing with 1:54 left and only a 6pt lead, KK Matheny would be one of those Quarterbacks.

Matheny responded with a beautifully orchestrated scoring drive that took up 1:24 and ended with Matheny finding Dominique Maloy on a 13-yard touchdown to tie the game at 26-26. The rule of any away team is to go for the win on the road and Seattle’s Chris Michaelson would do just that as he dialed up a New Gleaves run and a 2pt conversion giving Seattle a 28-26 lead with only 25 seconds remaining.

Talk about pressure, Stephanie Raymond who had already thrown for 4TD passes and would now face the daunting task of going 40yards in 0:30 seconds, in front of thousands of hometown fans that watched her grow up as a basketball star. This was an opportunity for Raymond to gain credibility and recognition as a football star and establish herself as a well-respected Quarterback on the biggest stage for women’s football.

Raymond and the Chicago offense were cool, calm, and collected with a 5 play drive that drove the ball down to the Seattle 2-yard line, most of the yardage coming on the legs of Raymond and no bigger run than the first play of the drive where Raymond broke-off a 25-yard run. With only 5 seconds remaining, Chicago would call its final timeout for a final play from the Seattle 2yd line. Seattle head coach Michaelson would decide to sell out and come with an all-out blitz to pressure the first-year QB1, however, Raymond would not be phased and found a wide-open Tamika Robinson to complete her season-record fifth touchdown pass of the night and more importantly, re-taking the lead for Chicago at 34-28 and perhaps the biggest win of the year.

Seattle would have one final opportunity with 5 seconds and with a Quarterback in Matheny that could certainly throw the length of the field, but Seattle’s offense chose the ‘hook and ladder’ which was shut down by Chicago’s defense to end the game.

This was perhaps one of the best football games you will have watched at any level of college, the NFL, etc, with an incredible amount of passion, heart, and heroism.

Seattle at 1-1 still sits very comfortably in relation to the Playoffs with a +51 point differential and more than likely as the No.3 seed in the Playoffs facing off against the No.2 seed (which appears to be Chicago, what a rematch that would be).

Chicago at 2-0 and a point differential of +12 will likely be the No.2 seed behind the Atlanta Empire and once again match up against Seattle in the Playoffs.

Game Stats

Atlanta Denver
Score 28 0
First Downs 13 10
Rushes-Yards (Net) 18-114 30-98
Passing Yards (Net) 49 -4
Passes Att-Comp-Int 5-11-0 1-6-2
Total Offense Plays-Yards 29-163 38-94
Fumble Returns-Yards 1/-1 3/0
Kickoff Returns-Yards 0-0 0-0
Interception Returns-Yards 2-7 0-0
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 3-1
Penalties-Yards 3-14 6-33
Possession Time 16:24 23:36
Third-Down Conversions 2/3 2/6
Fourth-Down Conversions 0/1 2/3
Red-Zone Scores-Chances 4/6 0/2



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