East County Sports

Powerful Surge set for WFA semifinal at Santana

The San Diego Surge host the Seattle Majestics in the second round of the Women’s Football Association playoffs on Saturday at 6 p.m. at Santana High School.

The Surge have won three of the last four American Conference championships. They feature the No. 3-ranked scoring team in the WFA, led at quarterback by longtime star Melissa Gallegos, who ranked fifth in the league in passing yards (1205) during the regular season.

Jessica Springer is one of the best running backs in women’s football history and a former star for the Dallas Diamonds and Chicago Force, while Alexis Snyder leads the team in rushing yards (422), and wideout Deana Guidry is both a rushing and receiving threat, leading the team with 623 combined yards on the ground and through the air.

Defensively, the Surge are paced by cornerback Kesia Williams, who leads the league with eight interceptions this season. Defensive tackle Knengi Martin has added 12 tackles for loss this season, while linebacker Katrina Walter joined Williams as a first-team All-American for the San Diego defense.

The Seattle Majestics went 8-0 in the regular season, one of three undefeated teams in the regular season this year along with the D.C. Divas and the Dallas Elite. It was the seventh undefeated regular season in the Majestics’ storied history. They dominated teams in the Pacific Northwest, outscoring their opponents, 395-30.

The Majestics rank fifth in the league in scoring offense. They are led by quarterback Rachel Woods, who was third in the WFA in passing yards (1259). Her top receiving target is tight end Tessla Rennie, who ranked fourth in the WFA in receiving yards (508). Wide receiver Chris Hernandez paired nicely with Rennie in the passing game, ranking tenth in the WFA in receptions (24). The running attack is led by Kalena Firstrider, who was fifth in the WFA in rushing yards (802) during the regular season.

The Majestics also feature the second-ranked scoring defense in the league, allowing under four points per contest. Defensive back McKenzie Tolliver ranks third in the league with five interceptions, as does Hernandez, who made her mark as a two-way player. Defensive tackles Kase Tukutau and Tara Shively clog up the opposing running game, while All-American Holly Custis guides the Seattle linebackers. Cornerback Jackie McCall not only leads the league in pass deflections (11), she is also a talented punt returner, ranking fifth in the WFA in punt return yardage (182).

The Surge won the only previous meeting in a playoff game last season, 36-20, with the visiting Surge overcoming a 20-16 halftime deficit with 20 unanswered points.

The Majestics haven’t been defeated since.

“They do the right thing,” Surge head coach Mike Suggett said. “They won’t beat themselves, they’re well coached, they play their positions, and know their responsibilities.”

The winner will face the Dallas Elite or Kansas City Titans in the American Conference Championship.

Tickets for Saturday’s game are $15.

San Diego 27, Central Cal 7 – The San Diego Surge remained perfect at home, but not before getting the scare of their lives. The reigning American Conference champions needed three fourth-quarter touchdowns to snap a 7-7 tie and finally break away from the Central Cal War Angels by a 27-7 count.

The Surge (8-1) have won three of the last four American Conference championships and had never lost a home game in their five-year history. Despite an upset loss to Central Cal in their regular season finale, 23-17, San Diego easily clinched the top seed in the Pacific Region and are considered top contenders for their fourth conference title in five years.

But the War Angels (5-3) – the only American Conference team to ever defeat San Diego in a playoff game with a victory in 2013 – nearly ended San Diego’s playoff run. Central Cal pulled out to a 7-0 lead at halftime, and a third-quarter touchdown by San Diego merely tied the game going into the fourth quarter. Yet despite being severely tested, the Surge scored three times in the fourth quarter, improving to 12-1 all-time in American Conference playoff games.

Defense ruled the first quarter as both teams were held scoreless. The first and only score of the first half was a 79-yard touchdown run by Destanie Yarbrough that gave the War Angels a 7-0 lead.

The Surge had four red zone scoring opportunities, but turned the ball over on downs each time.

In the third quarter, the Surge offense finally got over their scoring drought when Guidry tied the game with a 25-yard touchdown reception from Gallegos.

Guidry kicked off the fourth quarter by scoring off a two-yard run to give the Surge its first lead of the game. A botched PAT made it 13-7 with 14:56 left to play.

On the ensuing possession, the War Angels made their way to the Surge 11-yard line threatening to tie or take the lead, but Christina Webb killed the drive with an interception in the end zone.

The Surge took advantage after a 41-yard catch and run by Guidry led to a four-yard touchdown run by Alexis Snyder, extending the Surge lead to 19-7.

After Webb notched her second interception of the game, Guidry put up her third score with a 25-yard run to seal the win and redeem the only Surge loss of the season.

WFA Playoffs (Round 1)
American Conference
SAN DIEGO SURGE 27, Central Cal War Angels 7.
Seattle Majestics 34, Tacoma Trauma 0.
Dallas Elite 54, St. Louis Slam 3.
Kansas City Titans 22, Arlington Impact 12.
National Conference
Boston Renegades 59, West Michigan Mayhem 12.
Chicago Force 71, Cleveland Fusion 13.
DC Divas 48, Miami Fury 12.
Atlanta Phoenix 48, Jacksonville Dixie Blues 9.

Game report, preview and video by www.nealrosendall.com and www.sfdn.com

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