Monthly Archives: October 2004
Queens, New York, July 10, 2004
The New York Sharks have been the IWFL Eastern Conference Champions for two years in a row. They were looking for their record setting third straight title. In their way was the Tampa Bay Terminators. The Terminators got to the playoffs the same way as the Sharks. They won their division, then defeated their division rival to get to the conference championship game. New York had the home field advantage, but Tampa Bay was not intimidated.
It was a nice day for football in Queens as the sky was clear and the temperature was in the low 80’s, about 10 degrees cooler than Tampa Bay. The Sharks had a few special guests to help start off the game. Singing the national anthem was former WNBA and New York Liberty star Kym Hampton and performing the coin toss was Sharks’ owner Andra Douglas’ father, Henry Douglas. Mr. Douglas instilled the passion of football in his daughter and also supported her decision to purchase the New York Sharks.
Mr. Douglas did a good job, helping the Sharks win the toss and gaining first possession of the football.
After the kickoff, the Sharks started their first drive from their own 37-yard line. Quarterback Val Halesworth quickly hit receiver Kathy Holloman for a 14-yard gain and a first down. But the drive quickly stalled after that. Punter Nikki Gwinnett came in and did a very good job by booting a 38-yard punt that gave Tampa Bay the ball on their own 19-yard line.
The Terminators started their first drive by trying to take advantage of their size at the line of scrimmage. On their very first play, their whole line gathered together and like a rugby scrum, got their quarterback Kim Shaw forward by 10 yards. They tried it again and this time got 4 yards. It was like a pile of white pushing forward with their quarterback in the middle of the pile. The Terminators went to a more conventional handoff on the next play to Shay Rutland who gained 3 yards. But a false start penalty on the next play put Tampa Bay into a passing situation and Shaw was quickly sacked by Rose Addison which forced the visitors to punt.
The game then got a little bit sloppy as the Sharks lost the ball when they fumbled on the Tampa Bay 35-yard line. The Terminators then gave the ball back to New York on the very next play when they fumbled the snap. New York then gave the ball back to Tampa Bay two plays later when they fumbled on the Terminators 40-yard line.
Tampa Bay could do very little with the ball and very quickly punted it back to New York. After the punt, the Sharks started the drive on their own 44-yard line. New York didn’t stay on their own side of the field very long as they handed the ball off to Teresa Schirrippa. Schirrippa, last year’s “Sharks’ Rookie of the Year”, missed the first half of the season attending her first year of college but is quickly making up for lost time. On her first carry she gained 4 yards and then on the next carry, slashed her way for a 32-yard pickup. With the ball deep in Tampa Bay territory, Halesworth found Jen Blum on a 16-yard pass and a New York Sharks touchdown. Halesworth then ran the ball in on the two-point conversion to give the Sharks an 8-0 lead with 3:52 left in the first quarter.
Tampa Bay quickly regrouped and after the kickoff, put together an impressive 14-play drive. They moved the ball, mostly on the ground 51 yards to score their touchdown. The key play was on a third down 12-yard pass from Shaw to Beatrice Hawthorne. That put the ball on the Sharks 2-yard line, whereupon Shaw called her own number for the score. Kicker Lisa Currey kicked the extra point and the Terminators were only 1 point behind with 10:14 left in the second quarter.
The game was a little too close for the liking of New York, so they went back to putting the ball back in the hands of Schirrippa. But this time they got her the ball from the air. Starting from their own 34-yard line the Sharks used the pass to move the ball forward. Passes to Holloman and Karen Mulligan got the ball into Tampa Bay Territory. Then two consecutive pass plays to Schirripa picked up 43 yards to put the ball on the Terminator 2-yard line. Two plays later, Halesworth dove up the middle for the Sharks second touchdown. Gwinnett kicked the extra point and the Sharks had their 8 point lead with 2:28 left in the half.
In the third quarter, Tampa Bay dominated the Sharks. Twice New York had the ball, twice Halesworth was sacked, and twice they were quickly forced to punt. Tampa Bay on the other hand was moving the ball and almost scored a touchdown on a nifty 32-yard pass down the sideline, but the referee ruled that she caught the ball out of bounds and New York dodged a bullet.
As the fourth quarter started, Tampa Bay was driving again. Starting in decent field position from the New York 46-yard line, they were able to move the ball down to the Sharks’ 11-yard line before the drive stalled. The Terminators then went for an 18-yard field goal attempt, but the Sharks were called for encroachment giving new life to the drive. Now with the ball on the 6-yard line, the Terminators were looking to maybe tie up the game, but they were quickly hit with 2 penalties of their own that forced them backwards. It came down to a goal to go fourth down situation from the Sharks’ 15-yard line. Instead of going for the touchdown, the Terminators went for the field goal try. This time, New York stayed onside and Tampa Bay’s kick was short.
This might have been the turning point of the game. The Sharks had dodged another bullet and held on to their 8 point lead. They now had the ball on their own 20-yard line but were about the widen the lead. On the very first and only play of the drive, Halesworth threw a high arc to receiver Dana Sparling. The Tampa Bay defender got turned around the wrong way and that extra second gave Sparling all the time she needed to catch the ball and race down the left sideline for a touchdown. Sparling who had not caught a touchdown in her 3-year career until the very last game of this season, has now caught a touchdown pass, 3 games in a row. Halesworth ran in the 2-point conversion to give the Sharks a 23-7 lead with only 6:11 left in the game.
That touchdown practically ended Tampa Bay’s playoff run. Now down by 2 touchdowns and with time running out, they were forced to go to the air. With Sharks chomping at the bit, Tampa Bay had to gamble and quickly gave the ball back to New York on loss of downs at the Terminator 28-yard line. The Sharks put the final nail in the coffin on a 22-yard scramble for a touchdown by Halesworth to make the score 29-7 with 2:41 left in the game.
At the end of the game, New York began their celebrating. It first started with the traditional dumping of ice water on the coach and then the popping of champagne on the field. Another celebration on the field was of a non-football sort. New York Sharks public address announcer Jeff Keaveney came onto the field, went down on one knee, and proposed to Sharks’ linebacker Missy Marmorale. She accepted and her teammates quickly carried her on their shoulders.
Halesworth was a one-woman wrecking crew for the Sharks. She threw for two touchdowns, scored two touchdowns, and even scored on a 2-point conversion. But the offensive game ball went to Schirrippa who helped set-up two big touchdowns for New York. The defensive game ball went to Donna Spilotras who with the help of the Sharks’ offensive line was able to get together and stop Tampa Bay’s running attack even though they were outsized.
The Sharks will now head to California to play in the IWFL Championship Game for the third year in a row. They will face the Sacramento Sirens in Sacramento on July 24th. Kickoff is 10pm (EDT) and we will be broadcasting the game live on our flagship station, KEDU-FM.
|Tampa Bay Terminators||0||7||0||0||7|
|New York Sharks||8||7||0||14||29|
NY – (03:52) Blum 16 yard pass from Halesworth (Halesworth run)
TB – (10:14) Shaw 2 yard run (Currey kick)
NY – (02:28) Halesworth 1 yard run (Gwinnett kick)
NY – (06:11) Sparling 80 yard pass from Halesworth (Halesworth run)
NY – (02:41) Halesworth 22 yard run (pass failed)