Three Rivers Xplosion burned by West Virginia Wildfire
Saying the Three Rivers Xplosion women's football team faced an uphill battle in the second half of its showdown with the West Virginia Wildfire would be an understatement.The Xplosion struggled to find success on either side of the ball against the veteran Wildfire squad and trailed, 32-0. But instead of submitting, they continued playing for their pride. Late in the third quarter, they began moving the ball and it looked as if they would finally get their first touchdown of the game.But Mother Nature had a different idea.Before the Xplosion could find their way into the end zone, a storm moved over Chartiers Valley Stadium and the game was called due to lightning."We started finding our spark and the girls brought it together," Xplosion coach Robert Gold said. "It was a gut check. They decided to play football like Pittsburgh plays football."They showed some pride."The opening drive of the game by the Wildfire showed the playmaking ability of quarterback Fancia Payne. Payne took a lateral from running back Jessica Burnette after a handoff and punched into the end zone for the score. and with the two-point conversion, went up, 8-0.The Wildfire held the Xplosion to a three-and-out and used the momentum to find the end zone on their next possession, this time on a 26-yard rush by Natalie Weatherburn.At the end of the first quarter, the Xplosion forced the Wildfire into a third-and-long in their own territory. But Payne rushed for a 32-yard gain and a first down. The scramble led to Payne eventually finding tight end Tenya Maye in the end zone to push the lead to 24-0 early in the second quarter.The Xplosion found some life on their next possession. Desi Andrew picked up the team's first first down of the game with a 14-yard run. Then, on third-and-11, quarterback Lisa Anatarow found receiver Veronica Bretensky for a 30-yard gain that moved the Xplosion deep into Wildfire territory.On another third down, Andrew rushed for 5 yards and a personal foul was called on the Wildfire, allowing the Xplosion to move into first-and-goal. But the team was unable to find the right play and failed to convert the scoring chance.The Wildfire scored once more before halftime as Burnette took it in to push the lead to 32.The Xplosion's opening drive of the second half ended in disaster as the Wildfire blocked a punt and took it in for the score to push the score to 40-0.The Xplosion began putting it together on the next drive. With more than half the third quarter left, the team began using the running trio of Andrews, Kadesha Clark and Sherell Harris to perfection, picking up nearly 30 yards on the ground.But as the Xplosion found their momentum, the skies filled with explosions of their own and the referees cleared the field."We began hitting them up the middle and were able to get outside on them," Gold said. "I have no doubt we would of scored on them if the game continued."While the outcome was a disappointment for the Xplosion, Gold said the young team can use a game like this for the experience."We have a bunch of rookies," Gold said. "I think we have about three girls who have played before. Being a seasoned team like the Wildfire is goes a long way."Nobody likes to lose, 40-0, but we are building to our future. We are going to be around a long time and we will learn from experiences like this."The Xplosion will face Mass Chaos in the playoffs July 21 for the Women's Spring Football League's Northeast Division title. The game will be played at Chartiers Valley Stadium.The teams split their series this year. The Xplosion won the first meeting, 36-12, but fell in the second game, 20-14.