The Detroit Demolition got what it came for against the Pensacola Power Saturday in the 2003 National Women’s Football Championship in Nashville, Tenn.
The Demolition defeated the Power, 28-21, for the second straight National Women’s Football Association championship in as many years as the team has been in the league.
The NWFA was started August 2000 by sports and entertainment entrepreneur Catherine Masters. When the league started two years ago, it had 21 teams. The league expanded in 2003 to six divisions with 37 teams. In 2004, the NWFA will be expanding with eight more teams across the country, and has landed a television contract with the new Football Network to try to get more exposure and attract new fans to the league.
The Demolition and the Power were both 10-0 coming into the championship. The Demolition, formerly the Detroit Danger, won last year and were looking to repeat as champions going into the game on Saturday night. The Power had lost to the Demolition in the semi-finals of last year’s playoffs. It was no secret Pensacola was looking to avenge last year’s loss to Detroit, and bring home its first NWFA championship.
More than 7,000 fans watched a thrilling game on Vanderbilt University’s campus.
“There is nothing like winning it,” said Demolition quarterback Kim Grodus. “I feel very fortunate, and very happy for our girls that we could win this thing again. It’s awesome.”
Grodus said her team was very confident going into the game and knew if it stuck to the game plan the coaches implemented, then it would be successful over Pensacola.
Early on, the Demolition dominated both sides of the ball. It scored two touchdowns in its first two possessions and got consecutive stops on defense with big hits plugging up holes the Power was trying to run through.
In the second half, the Power looked like it was going to roll over and die being down 21-7. The momentum started to change, though, as the Power jumped on the back of its running back Cassie Amato.
Amato’s style of play is like Mike Alstott of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers. She ran through Demolition defenders for big gains. Her energy sparked a comeback for the Power in the fourth quarter.
With 10:37 left in the game, and from her own 30-yard-line, Power quarterback Sonia Kirchharr, threw a 20-yard pass that connected to wide receiver Emily Morgan. Morgan outran two Demolition defenders, tying the game at 21.
“We’ve only been down once before, and our coaches kept telling us that the game wasn’t over yet,” Morgan said. “When I caught that ball, I was just thinking to catch and run. I have done that all season.”
“We have a tendency to fall asleep and give up big plays,” said Demolition coach Tony Blankenship. “When Pensacola came back, I told my team to stay together; that we were going to have to win the game one way or another.”
Behind Grodus, the game’s most valuable player, the Demolition went back to its strength and ran the ball up the gut of the Power defense, play after play. Grodus then scored the game-winning touchdown on second and goal with a quarterback sneak with 5:51 left in the game.
The Power was unable to get anything going on its next possession and was forced to punt.
The Demolition took possession of the ball with 3:18 left in the game and ran the ball until time expired.
The Demolition came out of the Northern Conference bracket of the playoffs en route to its victory over the Power. The Northern Conference bracket is where the Mid Atlantic Division Columbus Flames would have played if they had made it to the playoffs.
A few of the Flames’ players attended the Championship game Saturday.
“I thought it was a very good game, especially the end,” Flames’ linebacker and OSU student Jennifer Hutchison said. “It was hard to sit there and watch because we want to be playing, but I definitely think we will be here next year.”