Renegades win back-to-back titles with undefeated season
Mark Simon | Boston Renegades Staff
GOLDEN COLO. — July 13, 2019 — The Boston Renegades won one for the thumb, capturing the city’s fifth professional women’s football championship since 2010, and the team’s second in a row. The Renegades beat the Cali War 52-24 in the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA) Pro Division National Championship game, battling through a lightning delay and an 12-3 deficit in the early second quarter before rallying to take a 32-18 lead at halftime.
After taking an early 3-0 lead on a field goal, Boston uncharacteristically turned over the football three times in the first quarter. A muffed punt return set up Cali’s first touchdown on a pass from quarterback Chantel Wiggins to her top target, tight end Jamie Robinson. The Renegades then turned over the ball on downs and Cali took a 12-3 lead on an explosive 64-yard play by wide receiver Kielyn Wilson. The first quarter ended with the War taking possession again as defensive back Sonfre Roberson collected an interception.
“[Cali has] a lot of good players, they are stout inside the box, they’re physical. The [lightning] delay didn’t help us much,” explained Renegades Head Coach John Johnson of his team’s slow start. The kickoff was delayed for about an hour due to lightning strikes in the vicinity. “[Our players] took a little time to get into it, but once they were able to get into the flow of things, they were ready to go,” said Johnson.
After forcing Cali to punt early in the second quarter, the Renegades moved deftly downfield by putting the ball in the hands of running back Ruth Matta, who also converted a critical third-and-long with a 15-yard reception. Sure-handed veteran receiver Adrienne Smith pulled in Boston’s first touchdown and Sarah Tully’s kick narrowed the deficit to two points.
The War answered immediately with a 55-yard drive highlighted by a 26-yard reception by Wilson on fourth down. That set up a one-yard plunge into the end zone by Cali running back LaCreisha Lane.
Starting near midfield after an excellent kick return by Tee Creech, Boston again turned to Matta and Smith. Smith caught two passes for 36 yards and a touchdown on the drive. Allie Genereux rushed for a two-point conversion to tie the game at 18.
Boston’s defense clamped down in the remaining 4:20 of the period, forcing Cali into two three-and-outs. The Renegades offense took a 32-18 advantage with consecutive scoring drives. Matta bursted for a 23-yard rush across the stripe and quarterback Allison Cahill connected with one of her favorite end zone targets Satoria Bell for a 6-yard score.
The Renegades didn’t look back from there, outscoring Cali 20-6 in the second half to secure a perfect 10-0 record and back-to-back WFA titles.
With 174 yards and 2 touchdowns on 32 rushing attempts, All American running back Ruth Matta claimed the game’s MVP award. She also caught three passes for 95 yards, including a 69-yard touchdown reception. Her 35 touches established the high mark of Matta’s involvement in any game this season. She saw her role in Boston’s offense transition from change-of-pace back to workhorse after All American running back Angelica Pascual was sidelined late in the regular season. The British import Matta, who previously won six UK national titles with the Birmingham (England) Lions, compiled 1327 all-purpose yards and 20 total touchdowns over 10 games and established herself as a dominant player on both sides of the Atlantic.
Matta’s electrifying arrival in the states gave cover to quarterback Allison Cahill’s most prolific season ever. Cahill set personal records in passing yards (2664) and passing touchdowns (46), as well as passing yards per game (266) and passing touchdowns per game (4.6). She also finished with career second-bests in completion percentage (64.2%) and TD-INT ratio (5.11), in addition to notching her third highest quarterback rating (125.24) of her 16-year career. Cahill lead the league this season in pass attempts, pass completions, and passing touchdowns, and was recognized with the 2019 National Conference MVP Award. In the championship game, she passed for 289 yards and five touchdowns.
Despite having a fairly quiet (26/283/4) regular season as she worked her way back from a year-long hiatus, veteran wide receiver Adrienne Smith turned in a clutch performance in the championship game, compiling 88 yards and three scores on four catches. Greater still, the timing of her scoring plays reinforced her reputation as a game changer. Smith pulled in the Renegades’ first touchdown of the game when Boston faced a 9-point deficit early in the second quarter. Her second touchdown helped erase Cali’s lead and swing the momentum of the game before halftime. And her spectacular 46-yard touchdown reception in the final quarter slammed the door on the Cali War for good.
Newcomer Vanessa Goh also contributed perhaps her best game of the season. She kicked a 33-yard field goal and three touchbacks. She also collected four combined tackles on defense, including two for a loss, while supplying effective pass coverage in Boston’s secondary. Goh joined Boston this year after starting her career in tackle with the Los Angeles Bobcats in 2017.
Alongside Goh, Sarah Tully went five-for-six on extra point kicks, and also pulled in a reception on offense.
Boston’s strong performance in the kicking game is underscored by the fact that Brooke Goodman, who was arguably the best kicker in the league in 2018, was sidelined the entire season with injury.
“We make a concerted effort to be as deep as possible in our special teams,” said Renegades Special Team Coordinator Cliff Ashley. “Vanessa and all of our special teamers had a great game. Special teams…[offer] an opportunity to aggressively bury the other team with field position, and to put our offense and defense in the best positions to succeed. We’re the table and the tone setters, and we take that responsibility seriously.”
Tee Creech returned four kickoffs for 100 yards and routinely gave Boston’s offense starting field position near the 50 yard line.
On the defensive side of the ball, Boston’s aggressive play at the line of scrimmage stuffed Cali’s rushers all night long. Thirteen of the War’s 17 rushing attempts resulted in 0 yards or fewer, and only two rushes exceeded 3 yards. While Cali managed to score once on the ground, their total rushing output was -4 yards.
Rookie defensive back Andrea Fullmore lead the Renegades with 6 tackles. Goh, Genereux, Brooke Gause, Danielle Fournier, Spring Gamble, Erin Diette, Penny Fagnani, and rookie Jessica Hayden accounted for Boston’s tackles for loss. Hayden also recovered a fumble that helped set up a Renegades scoring opportunity in the third quarter.
Most of the damage made by the War came on big chunk plays in the passing game to tight end Jamie Robinson, who led the league with 13 touchdown receptions this season, and on shovel passes to rookie receiver Kielyn Wilson, whose speed caught the eye of Boston’s head coach.
“They have great speed on the edge. As you can see, tonight [Wilson] has been outstanding,” Johnson told sideline reporter Pat Brown.
Wilson collected two touchdowns and 139 yards on 10 receptions. Robinson finished with five catches, 116 yards, and a touchdown. Veteran receiver Lisa King caught five passes for 57 yards. Cali quarterback Chantel Wiggins finished with 333 passing yards and three touchdowns. Destanie Yarbrough, who played both ways for the War at running back and linebacker, was awarded game MVP honors for her team.
For Renegades captain Brooke Goodman, this was the epitome of a statement win. “You can either achieve greatness or you can define it. This season we did the latter.”
The game was originally broadcasted on ESPN3. Watch it now on YouTube.
|Marv Kay Stadium, Golden, Colo.||1||2||3||4||F|
|Q1||BOS||Vanessa Goh #26, 33-yard FG|
|CAL||Jamie Robinson #22, 15-yard reTD from Chantel Wiggins #8 (2PT failed)|
|CAL||Kielyn Wilson #24, 64-yard reTD from Wiggins (2PT failed)|
|Q2||BOS||Adrienne Smith #10, 2-yard reTD from Allison Cahill #7 (Sarah Tully #11 kick)|
|CAL||LaCreisha Lane #34, 1-yard ruTD (2PT failed)|
|BOS||Smith, 7-yard reTD from Cahill (Allie Genereux #52 2PT)|
|BOS||Ruth Matta #22, 23-yard ruTD (Tully kick)|
|BOS||Satoria Bell #4, 6-yard reTD from Cahill (Tully kick)|
|Q3||BOS||Matta, 2-yard ruTD (Tully kick)|
|CAL||Kielyn Wilson #24, 2-yard reTD from Wiggins (Svetlana Stepanchuk #86 kick failed)|
|Q4||BOS||Matta, 69-yard reTD from Cahill (Tully kick)|
|BOS||Smith, 46-yard reTD from Cahill (Tully kick failed)|
- It is confirmed that Allison Cahill #7 has surpassed the 20,000 yard benchmark for career passing yards. Because statistics are missing for twenty games earlier in Cahill’s career, it is likely that she actually surpassed the 20,000 yard mark earlier this season or during the course of the 2018 season.
Previous game vs. opponent: Boston Renegades 42, Los Angeles Warriors 18 at Third Fifth Bank Stadium, Kennesaw, Ga. 7/28/2018
Previous game at site: none
Renegades record vs. opponent: 2-0
Photos: Kim Jamison Photography
|3rd Downs||6-12 (50%)||3-14 (21%)|
|4th Downs||0-3 (0%)||1-5 (20%)|
Allison Cahill #7 — 18/38, 289 yds, 5 TD, 2 INT. Rating 90.90
Ruth Matta #22 — 32/174, long of 23, 2 TD
Allison Cahill #7 — 1/2
Allie Genereux #52 — 2PT
Ruth Matta #22 — 3/95, long of 69, 1 TD
Adrienne Smith #10 — 4/84, long of 46, 3 TD
Emily Beinecke #87 — 5/60, long of 28
Stephanie Pascual #3 — 4/40, long of 19
Satoria Bell #4 — 1/6, 1 TD
Sarah Tully #11 — 1/4
Andrea Fullmore #14 — 4 Tk, 2 Ast
Brooke Gause #6 — 4 Tk, 1 Ast, 2 TFL
Vanessa Goh #26 — 3 Tk, 1 Ast, 2 TFL
Sami Bloom #44 — 3 Tk, 1 Ast
Shantia Creech #5 — 3 Tk, 2 PD
Allie Genereux #52 — 1 Tk, 4 Ast, 1 TFL, 1 PD
Danielle Fournier #70 — 1 Tk, 3 Ast, 1 TFL
Charlene Casey #36 — 1 Tk, 3 Ast
Spring Gamble #23 — 1 Tk, 2 Ast, 1 TFL
Allison Gauvin #31 — 1 Tk, 1 Ast
Jessica Hayden #68 — 1 Tk, 1 Ast, 1 Sck, 1 TFL, 1 FUM
Emma Finestone #20 — 1 Tk
Ruth Matta #22 — 1 Tk
Satoria Bell #4 — 2 Ast
Laura Pula #72 — 3 Ast
Erin Diette #30 — 2 Ast, 1 TFL
Penny Fagnani #62 — 1 Ast, 1 TFL
Deanna Walsh #53 — 1 Ast
Kristen Sarson #67 — 1 Ast
Shana Segers #64 — 1 Ast
Briannah Gallo #24 — 1 Ast
Christina Riggieri #89 — 1 Ast
Field Goals: Vanessa Goh #26, 1/1
Extra Points: Sarah Tully #11, 5/6
Kickoffs: Vanessa Goh #26, 3 touchbacks
Punt Returns: Shantia Creech #5, FUM
Kickoff Returns: Shantia Creech #5, 4/100