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2017 Gameday Recaps
Force vs. 3rd Rd: Boston Renegades
Result: 33-47 L  
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Force vs. 2nd Rd: Pittsburgh Passion
Result: 45-0 W  
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Force vs. St. Louis Slam
Result: 44-20 W  
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Force vs. Boston Renegades
Result: 24-25 L  
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Force vs. Toledo Reign
Result: 52-0 W  
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Force vs. Minnesota Vixen
Result: 53-0 W  
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Force vs. D.C. Divas
Result: 28-21 W  
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Force vs. Detroit Dark Angels
Result: 84-0 W  
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CHICAGO FORCE vs. Dallas Diamonds

Result: 29-35 L

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Contact: George Howe, Media Relations Director
(773) 368-4848

A Flip of the Coin

Chicago, IL. Long after the players have showered and left the locker room. The last few spectators head out the gates, and the clean up crew picks up the discarded debris, regardless how great the losing team might play in an incredible championship game such as this, as the years go by, fans only seem to remember the winner. That certainly won’t be the case for the more than 3,000 enthusiastic fans that were fortunate enough to be a part of the thrilling, forever memorable, 2008 IWFL National Championship. The Dallas Diamonds prevailed 35-29 over the Chicago Force in a dramatic sudden death overtime win. “This is not just the best Women’s game that I’ve ever seen, but the best and most exciting football game ever,” IWFL President Laurie Frederick told the crowd as she handed out the awards. Both undefeated (10-0) teams clearly had their eyes on the prize and realized what was at stake. For Dallas, it was an opportunity to validate their new entry into the IWFL after three championships in a previous league. It was the first ever trip to the title game for Chicago since entering the league in 2003.

The Force won the coin flip and came out firing on all cylinders. QB Sami Grisafe, named Force game day offensive MVP, clearly had her best game of her career, coolly commanding the offense with good field vision and savvy decision making. Grisafe wasted no time completing passes to Albi Zhubi, Patricia Harper and a 37 yard strike to Brandi Srda that spotted the ball at the Diamond 13 yard line. Angie Bandstra took a misdirection handoff from Grisafe to the five. Grisafe’s up the middle keeper gave the Force four fresh downs and it appeared that Chicago would strike first. The Dallas defense did bend but didn’t break. Four straight running attempts up the middle, two by RB Melissa Smith and two by Grisafe, were stopped cold by the Dallas defensive line.

The Diamonds took over at their own 1yard line and compiled three straight first downs with a combination of short passes and stellar running by RB and IWFL game day MVP Jessica Springer. The Force defense sent a clear message and got a little payback in the process. On fourth and one the Force defense, led by reliable veterans, Pam Schaffrath (Force defensive game day MVP), Linda Bache, and Jessica McPeake, denied Springer and mates another first down with a smothering gang tackle. With 4:16 to go until intermission, the Force took the early lead. The drive started at their own 33. A tough run by FB Bridget Fahrner and a 15 yard flagrant face mask penalty propelled the Force to three consecutive first downs highlighted by a 20 yard scamper down the right sideline by Grisafe to the Dallas 20. A 13 yard run by Bandstra and another facemask brought the ball to the one. Smith then lowered her head, squared her shoulders and crossed the goal line standing up. Grisafe ran a beautiful naked bootleg around the right end untouched for the two point conversion and an 8-0 advantage. It was short lived. At the two minute warning a flip back pass from Dallas QB Karen Seimears to Springer went for 28 yards to the Force 28-yard line. A 25 yard pass completion brought the ball to the three. One play later, Springer bulldozed her way into the end zone. Springer converted the two-point conversion, and both teams went to the locker room tied at 8.

The Diamonds took the third quarter kickoff and came off the sidelines at full speed. Dallas coach Todd Hughes decided to go to a no huddle offense and it paid off. Springer, an amazing athlete, carried her team on her back catching passes, and at times running over the Force defenders. Six plays later, Springer was rewarded for her hard work with a handoff that resulted in a 20 yard touchdown run. The extra point made it 15-8. “I wanted to come out and shake things up a bit and catch them off guard, “said Hughes. The Force came right back. From Chicago’s 38, Smith ran for 9 yards. Grisafe once again hooked up with Bandstra on an impressive 42-yard strike to the Diamond 11. Grisafe froze the defense with a nice counter fake, and great blocking up front by Stacey Baker, Keesha Brooks, Jamie Menzyk, Dawn Pederson and ‘Roz’ Bennett allowed Grisafe to score. Carolyn Lee’s extra point tied the score at 15. Another strong defensive stop by the Force led this time by Tashaunda Shumpert and Theresa Simon, both throwing caution to the wind as they tripped up Springer who out weighed them by at least 60 pounds. McPeake then made the play of the night when she streaked in from the right side and blocked the punt, resulting in the ball rolling to the Dallas 25. Smith, every bit as impressive as Springer all season long, set up yet another go ahead score with a bruising 21 yard run to the 4. Grisafe ran around right end and the extra point made the score 22-15 with 7:39 to play in the third. With less than three minutes to play in the third, Chicago appeared to catch the break that they were looking for, after Springer scored for the third time, the extra point attempt was no good, allowing Chicago to cling to a 22-21 lead going into the fourth quarter.

Dallas methodically ran the offense and calmly marched down the field. Three runs of 4, 5, and 4 by who else but Springer was capped off with her 4 yard score from the left side. Springer scored the two point conversion for a 29-22 lead with 10:36 to play in regulation. Srda took the Dallas kick off from the 20 to the Diamond 48. Harper leaped in the air for a Grisafe pass, with no regard for her body. She got crunched by two Dallas defenders but somehow held on for a 19-yard reception. Grisafe then found her favorite receiver when Bandstra pulled in a 14-yard completion to the 5. Grisafe then rolled out right faked a pass short and found a wide open Bandstra in the end zone as the crowd went into a deafening roar. The extra point tied the contest at 29 with six minutes to play. Both teams had chances to put the game away. On the ensuing kick off, Odessa Jenkins misplayed the ball and Force special team member Erin Buteau recovered the ball at the Dallas 35. Chicago drove down the field looking for any opportunity to score. Total confusion by the officiating crew, who seemed at times to be under-qualified for such a huge match up, allowed Dallas to dodge a bullet. What seemed to be called pass interference on Srda’s catch attempt that would have spotted the ball at the three, was then ruled an illegal chuck, which is only a 5-yard penalty. The reversed call took Chicago out of field goal range, giving them first and ten from the 24-yard line with 11 seconds left and no time-outs. The Force lined up, and Grisafe completed a pass to Harper at the 2-yard line. The clock continued to run even though the officials had not yet set the ball, nor had the chains been moved for the first down. The horn then sounded, denying the Force a final attempt to win the game in regulation.

In the IWFL, as with NFL, there is a 15-minute sudden death over-time session. First team that scores wins. The coin toss didn’t go Chicago’s way. Dallas took the kick off to midfield. Six straight runs by Springer, who was unstoppable and running against a fatigued Force defense, sealed the championship with a 13-yard run up the middle, as her teammates mobbed her. “There is no question in my mind that if we win the coin toss, we are the champions, “said a disappointed Head Coach Jim Stahl. “Springer is such a great player and clearly the difference maker. I told my players that this will hurt for awhile. I don’t want anyone to hang their heads. We left it all out on the field.

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