Portland puts up three touchdowns in the first half on its way to a 37-0 win over Utah

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: DAVID BALL - Portlands Hollie Petrie gets loose on a scramble for a first down during the first half Saturday. MILWAUKIE — The Portland Fighting Fillies faced little resistance Saturday night in a 37-0 win over the Utah Blitz to kick off the Women’s Football Alliance season.

The Fillies scored on their first possession when running back Holly Custis turned the corner, put up a stiff-arm to shove away a Utah tackler and out raced several more pursuers to the pylon to finish off the 16-yard touchdown run.

“That was the game in a nutshell,” Custis said. “Our offensive line was getting a big push and that gave us some huge lanes to run through.”

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: DAVID BALL - Portland running back Latasha Mitchell closes in on the end zone to put the Fillies up 21-0 in the second quarter.

The Fillies added to their lead before the first quarter was done when running back Ashley Kondziela picked her way through the middle for a 24-yard touchdown run.

The Blitz attempted to get back into the game after moving the ball to midfield before Portland’s Erin Miller crashed in from her defensive back spot and dropped the ball carrier for a 3-yard loss to force a punt.

Portland scored on each of its first three possessions, going 5-for-5 on third downs during that stretch. The highlight came when quarterback Cassie Dunsire fired a short pass over the middle to tight end Sarah Malone, who dragged a crowd of tacklers about 10 yards down the center of the field. A facemask penalty gave the Fillies the extra yards they needed to convert the 3rd-and-17.

Three plays later, running back Latasha Mitchell sprinted untouched around the right side to make it 21-0 early in the second quarter.

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: DAVID BALL - Portland linebacker Sonya Doolittle chases down a play from behind during Saturdays season opening win over Utah.

The Fillies used three different quarterbacks in their season opener with Malone playing under center throughout the second half. She got off to a quick start when she lofted a long ball over the top to Dunsire, who got behind her defender for a 43-yard catch — the longest of the game — before being pushed out of bounds inside the 5. Malone did the rest with a plunge through the middle to put the game out of reach 28-0 midway through the third quarter.

“You want to get that momentum going your way in the first five minutes of the half, and that established the feel for the rest of the end,” Dunsire said. “We hit some big pass plays and that opened up the field for us.”

Dunsire came up with another big gain to set up the team’s final touchdown when a third-down pass bounced off the hands of a Utah defender. Dunsire took in the deflected ball and kept going down the middle to move the chains on 3rd-and-15. C.J. Wilson completed the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run.

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: DAVID BALL - Fillies offensive guard Stephanie Aliimatafitafi knocks back a Utah Blitz defender.

Portland capped the scoring by blocking a punt out the back of the end zone for a safety in the final minutes. Nikki Dunsire was 5-for-5 on extra points.

The Fillies host the cross-town rival Portland Shockwave at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 12. The Shockwave opened the season with a 33-12 loss to reigning Northwest division champ Seattle.

“We know each other well and it’s always a great game,” Custis said.

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