Fighting Fillies hit their stride in home opener
WOMEN'S FOOTBALL - Portland gets out to a 26-0 lead in Saturday's win over the Utah Blitz
MILWAUKIE - Portland's rookie running back Lauren Robideau galloped all over the Utah Blitz defense Saturday night, helping the Fighting Fillies to a 26-15 win in their home opener in the Women's Football Alliance.
Robideau, a former soccer player at Eastern Oregon University, finished with 143 yards rushing and scored twice. Her first big play came late in the first half when she knifed through the middle to pick up a first down and just kept going, out running a pair of Utah tacklers to the end zone for a 58-yard score.
The Blitz recovered a fumbled punt return late in the first half, but squandered the scoring opportunity when Portland's Jenna Brajcich knocked down a fourth-down pass at the goal line.
The Fillies went into the locker room with a commanding 19-0 lead.
The game plan for the second half - keep giving the ball to Robideau.
Portland set up its final touchdown when quarterback Cassie Dunsire found Melanie Allen along the sideline for a 36-yard pick up.
Two plays later, the hand-off went to Robideau who headed around the left side only to run out of room.
'I saw Ollie (Hebert) come out of nowhere and make a huge block that opened up a new hole for me,' Ribideau said.
She dug her cleats into the turf, cut back to the inside and dragged two Utah tacklers over the goal line to extend the lead to 26-0 with 3:35 left in the third quarter.
Sara Galica put up the first points for the Blitz by returning the ensuing kickoff 68 yards for a touchdown. Utah also converted a pair of long fourth downs to find the end zone once more with 3:17 to play before Robideau took a series of carries to move the chains and run out the clock.
The Fillies (1-2) host the Valley Vipers (0-3) at 5 p.m. Saturday, May 12, at Milwaukie High.
Portland took quick command against the Blitz scoring on their first drive when Dunsire hit Lauren Harms on a 9-yard touchdown strike.
'I knew we had a good height advantage on the corner over there, so I threw one up and Lauren came down with it,' Dunsire said. 'Our coach called great plays tonight and set us up for success.'
Portland kept its opening drive alive when fullback Jasmine Teters crashed into the middle to pick up a 4th-and-1, then kept going out the other side for another 10 yards before three tacklers brought her down.
The Fillies added another touchdown early in the second quarter after completing their most impressive drive of the night, travelling 47 yards in 11 plays while taking more than seven minutes off the clock. The team converted three third-down plays along the way, setting the stage for a goal-line plunge where the offensive line shoved Utah players into the end zone allowing running back Holly Custis to go in untouched.
'Our line was getting a great push all night and that really opening things up for us,' Dunsire said.
Portland's defense was just as dominant.
Utah didn't take a snap in Fillies' territory until late in the second quarter, and that threat was erased in one play when Portland linebacker Ashley Kondziela came off the edge and dropped the quarterback for an 11-yard loss.
'We run a different defense with five linebackers and just three up front. Offenses don't see a lot of that and it messes them up,' Kondziela said.
The Blitz had 32 yards of offense in the first half before Utah QB Shannon Gebbia connected on several sizeable pass plays down the stretch.