WFA FOOTBALL - Utah scores twice in the fourth quarter to seal the 33-13 win
MILWAUKIE - Disaster struck twice in the fourth quarter, squashing the Portland Fighting Fillies playoff chances with a 33-13 home loss to the division-leading Utah Jynx on Saturday night.
The Fillies were within a touchdown at the start of the fourth quarter when a high snap sent punter Cassie Dunsire scrambling before being taken down by two Jynx tacklers for a 15-yard loss.
Utah took possession at Portland's 27-yard line and appeared on the verge of putting the game away. But Fillies linebacker Jet Riding stopped Utah fullback Tina Tela in her tracks on 4th-and-1 to give Portland another chance.
Running back Lauren Robideau got the Fillies moving in the right direction, dragging a pair of tacklers past the first-down marker on 3rd-and-1.
But the next play would kill Portland's chances.
Dropping back to pass, Dunsire sent a quick strike into a crowd on the left side. Utah's Erin Miller pulled it down with both hands and weaved down the sideline for a 34-yard touchdown return, launching herself over the goal line when a pair of Fillies closed in on her late.
"I didn't think I'd catch the ball, but once I had it I wanted to score," Miller said. "I just kept pumping, saw the end zone and put it all out there."
The touchdown gave the Jynx a 26-13 lead with 10 minutes to play. Utah would add another score after the Fillies botched a fake punt deep in their own territory to bring the final margin to 20 points.
The win secures the Division 14 title for the Jynx (5-0), while the Fillies (3-3) sit in second place.
Needing a win to keep its playoff hopes alive, the Fillies scored on their opening drive of the game, using a series of runs by Robideau to get down the field.
The score was set up when Dunsire took an option play around the right side and pitched to Robideau at the last moment for a 10-yard gain. On the next play, Dunsire kept the ball herself going the opposite direction and crashed over the goal line from six yards out.
Utah grabbed the lead before the first quarter was finished when Mixsa Kafi outraced the Fillies defense 29 yards to the end zone.
The Jynx appeared ready to run away with the game when QB Louise Bean found Tela on a quick strike over the middle that turned into a 66-yard touchdown play for a 20-7 Utah lead.
The Fillies got back into the game with a long drive to finish the half, helped along by the team's first two complete passes of the night.
The series started with Christy McAtee making a grab over the middle and dragging tacklers another 10 yards downfield for a 22-yard gain - the Fillies biggest pick-up of the night.
Later in the drive, Dunsire hit on a 12-yard strike to convert a 3rd-and-long play.
The Fillies also picked up a 4th-and-3 on the drive when Dunsire barked signals that drew a crowd of Utah players over the line for an offsides penalty.
Robideau finished it off with a 3-yard plunge through the middle to bring Portland within 20-13 at the half.
The Fillies had a chance to pull even coming out of the locker room, marching down the field on its opening drive when Robideau broke a tackle to pick up a 4th-and-2. Dunsire followed with a third-down pass that put the ball inside the 10-yard line.
Portland was stopped on a series of running plays, setting up a 4th-and-goal play that saw Dunsire roll to her right looking for a receiver in the end zone. With no one open, she tucked the ball in and made a run for it only to be tackled a few yards short.
Portland finishes the regular season June 16 with a road game against Utah's other franchise - the 0-5 Blitz.