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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. Columbus Comets

Result: 47-0 W

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Photo Credit: Johnny Boston


By John Montgomery

The Chicago Force (2-0) won its home opener in the WFA beating the Columbus Comets (0-1) 47-0 on Saturday night at Evanston High School. Running back Melissa Smith led a balanced offensive attack with three touchdowns and 125 yards rushing, and was named the Offensive MVP of the game. The Force, behind solid offensive line play, ran for 247 yards while completing 17 passes for 187 yards. Quarterback Sami Grisafe completed 13-of-22 passes for 158 yards and two touchdowns.

Head coach John Konecki had some concerns about the running game when All-star back Jessica Springer decided not to return for 2012. Smith returned to the Force for this season and rushed for 256 yards in the season opener at Kansas City. Smith was a factor again on Saturday. “Jessica is a once in a lifetime player,” admitted Konecki. “She has left the team. She is moving on. Our philosophy is 'the next person up' in the lineup. We knew we had the offensive line back. We knew it might be two or three players to pick up the slack. Brandy, Melissa, and Mary did a great job today.”
“It feels good to be back (on the team),” Smith said of returning to the squad for the first time since 2008.
“It feels great to have Melissa back on the team,” Grisafe said. “The heart of Melissa Smith has never left. We really missed Melissa. She’s an integral part of the team.”

Football is the ultimate team sport. Konecki was pleased with both sides of the football as the defense limited the Comets to minus seven yards rushing. Columbus had three turnovers and finished the contest with only 90 yards of total offense. The defensive effort was led by Darcy Leslie, Kim Marks (named Defensive MVP of the game), Amber Burns and April Fowlkes. “I feel good about this team,” added Konecki.

The evening began with Chicago Bears defensive end Israel Idonije performing the ceremonial coin toss before taking pictures and signing autographs with fans. “This is the first women’s football game that I have attended and I was very impressed,” Idonije said.

The Force scored on their first possession at Lazier Field as Brandy Hatcher capped a 62-yard drive by scoring on a two-yard run. Smith scored on a 16-yard run in the second quarter for a 14-0 lead as Grisafe threw a pass to Jeanette Gray for the two-point conversion. It’s hard to say one play could make a difference in a 47-0 game. However, the complexion of this game might have changed when Grisafe threw a 37-yard touchdown pass to Elizabeth Strozinsky on the final play of the first half.

The Force was never in trouble as Smith scored twice in the third quarter, and Grisafe added an eight-yard touchdown pass to Brandi Srda in the fourth quarter. Rookie Mary Choules came off the bench to end the scoring on a one-yard run. Choules rushed for 52 yards on 10 carries.

Grisafe believed it was important to win the home opener. “It sets the tone for the entire year,” Grisafe said on the home opener. Grisafe is coming off a fine season last year with 22 touchdown passes. “She’s on top of her game,” Smith said on Grisafe. “She knows what to do. She can adjust (to the defense). She can be my lead blocker. She’s an all-around player.”

The Force has started its tenth season with the same goal of winning the league championship for the first time in team history. Is this the year? “I think we can win the championship,” Grisafe said. “It’s not about how much skill you have in my opinion. We’ve had skilled teams in the past. It’s about finding that X factor. I think this team has the opportunity and capability to win the title.”

The Force is off to a good start.

Evanston High School
April 21, 2012

  1 2 3 4 T
COMETS   0 0 0 0 0
FORCE   6   15  14  12  47 

Scoring Summary

TD 08:25 Brandy Hatcher 2 yard run (PAT failed) 0 6
TD 06:40 Melissa Smith 16 yard run (Sami Grisafe pass to Jeanette Gray for Two-Point Conversion) 0 14
TD 00:00 Sami Grisafe 37 yard pass to Elizabeth Strozinsky (Tricia Charbonneau Kick) 0 21
TD 07:08 Melissa Smith 6 yard run (Two-Point Conversion failed) 0 27
TD 05:21 Melissa Smith 6 yard run (Melissa Smith run for Two-Point Conversion) 0 35
TD 14:38 Sami Grisafe 8 yard pass to Brandi Srda (PAT failed) 0 41
TD 04:00 Mary Choules 1 yard run (PAT failed) 0 47

Game Statistics

10 First Downs 24
90 Total Yardage 434
31 - (-7) Rushing 39 - 247
97 Passing Yards 187
3 Turnovers 0
6 - 35 Penalties (Yards) 3 - 37

Top Performers

Rushing CAR YDS AVG TD  
Melissa Smith 14 125 8.9 3  
Brandy Hatcher 11 58 5.3 1  
Mary Choules 10 52 5.2 1  
Stephanie Stevens 15 36 2.4 0  
Sami Grisafe 13 22 158 2 0
Latrice Johnson 7 20 93 0 2
Receiving REC YDS AVG TD  
Whitney Barnes 5 89 17.8 0  
Elizabeth Strozinsky 4 82 20.5 1  
Jeanette Gray 6 23 3.8 0  
Albi Zhubi 2 25 12.5 0  

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