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Passion beat Illusion in playoffs

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By Kyle Adams
Sunday, June 24, 2007, 12:00 p.m.

The Pittsburgh Passion might be new to the playoffs, but they sure aren't acting like it.

In the franchise's first trip to the postseason, the second-seeded Passion defeated the seventh-seeded Erie Illusion, 63-7, last night at George Cupples Stadium on the South Side.

Quarterback Lisa Horton recorded touchdowns on her first three passing attempts, and the Passion dominated, combining a balanced and explosive offensive attack with stifling team defense to keep their championship hopes alive.

"We're just approaching each game one by one, but I think our end result since Day One in January (has been) Nashville, July 21," Horton said.

The Passion, the champions of the Central Division in the Northern Conference of the National Women's Football Association, are two wins away from reaching the NWFA championship game.

The Passion didn't waste any time taking control of the game. Horton hit wide-out Wilma Walton for a 73-yard touchdown on the first play of the game.

Running back Torina Henley, who averaged more than 10 yards per carry in the regular season, starred on the next drive, rushing for 51 yards on two carries. Horton then hit Wilma for her second touchdown of the game to give the Passion an early 14-0 advantage.

Horton made it three in a row when she hit Lori Johnson late in the first quarter for a 42-yard touchdown to build the Passion lead to 21-0.

Horton went 7 for 11 for 210 yards and five touchdowns in the game. She also added a rushing touchdown.

Henley capped the first-quarter scoring with a 48-yard touchdown run to give the Passion a four-touchdown lead. She rushed for 133 yards on six carries and recorded two touchdowns.

Walton caught three passes for 90 yards and two touchdowns.

"We played a fun offense tonight, we mixed it up," Horton said. "We had the run, we set up the pass. We pulled a couple of things out of the junk drawer and mixed it up, so it was a fun game."

The Passion led, 49-0, at halftime and have made a habit out of dominating opponents this season. Entering last night's game, the Passion were averaging 48.8 points per game. They defeated opponents by an average of more than 43 points while allowing only 6.6 points per game in the regular season.

Pittsburgh shut down Erie's offense and solved an Erie defense that had posted four shutouts and allowed only 33 points all season.

Some of the dominance can surely be attributed to the Passion's large roster that includes a full defense and offense. While the Passion dressed 47 players for the game, the Illusion traveled with only 16 of the 31 women on their roster.

If the Passion win next week, they will advance to the semifinals of the NWFA playoffs. The NWFA championship game is July 21 in Nashville, Tenn.



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