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August 3, 2010 > Bay Area Bandits drop championship game to Montreal Blitz

Bay Area Bandits drop championship game to Montreal Blitz

Submitted By Kara Kimmel

Photos submitted by Phillip Kimmel

In what could be considered one of the greatest defensive battles of the season, the Western Conference Champion Bay Area Bandits fell 9-2 to the Eastern Conference Champion Montreal Blitz in the Independent Women's Football League Tier II North American Championship game played Saturday, July 24 in Round Rock, Texas.

"It was a battle for four quarters. Our defense did a great job containing the Blitz passing game and forcing turnovers," said Bandits GM Neda Mohammadi. "We are proud of our accomplishments in our first season and are only going to become stronger from this experience."

This was the third championship game appearance in a row for the Montreal Blitz, who now have their second North American Championship title (winning in 2008 as well).

After both teams opened the game trading field position, the Fremont-based Bandits were then able to move the ball down the field on its second possession with strong runs by Dakura Smith and Rachel Darrow. From about 30 yards out quarterback Sandra Hernandez looked long for Lou Vitellaro, but the Blitz were able to come up with a key interception at the goal line.

The Bandits sent the full force of the defense on the next play with defensive linemen Sam Brinkerhoff, Lanecia Strom, Anne "Ice" Kendall and Monica Gudiel charging into the Blitz backfield to come up with a safety and the Bandits only score of the game.

Montreal forced the Bandits to punt and slowly moved the ball up the field as the first quarter came to a close. The Blitz drove deep into Bandits' territory before finally hitting a wall around the 14 yard line. On fourth and long, the Blitz lined up for a 31 yard field goal, but with the Bandits pressuring heavy from the side, they were able to block the attempt, preserving the 2-0 lead.

The Bandits took over on downs but were unable to move the ball, forcing them to punt. The Blitz took over around mid-field and moved the ball down to the 11-yard line of the Bandits before Defensive End Valu Muti came up with a crucial sack just outside the 20-yard line, temporarily knocking the Blitz' quarterback out of the game. The back-up quarterback was ineffective and the Bandits were able to take over on downs.

Bay Area moved the ball down the field with strong running by Valu Muti, Darrow, Smith and La Star Brown. On third-and-long, Hernandez found receiver Kara Kimmel in the flats for a first down at the Blitz' 28-yard line. But after a number of runs that put the Bandits near the 20-yard line, the Bandits were forced to go for it on fourth down; Hernandez's run for the first came up shy and the Bandits turned the ball over.

The first half ended with the Blitz running out the clock and the Bandits leading 2-0 as the teams went into the locker rooms.

After a number of possession changes to open the second half, the Blitz were driving into Bandits' territory, but cornerback Esmi Mendoza intercepted a pass giving the ball back to the Bandits. The two teams again exchanged possessions before the Blitz drove deep into Bandits' territory and lined up for their second field goal attempt. But once again, the Bandits put pressure on the Blitz' kicker with the attempt sailing wide left.

The Bandits once again took over deep in their own territory and were unable to move the ball against the tough Blitz' defense. With punter Farris Pine lined up to punt the ball, the snap sailed over her head and into the end zone. Instead of allowing the Blitz to score a touchdown, Pine recovered the ball in the end zone but was tackled for a Blitz' safety, tying the score at 2-2.

Montreal started its next possession near midfield and were able to move the ball down the field with a solid run attack. From about eight yards out, they were able to run it in for a score and go up for the first time, 9-2, with six minutes to play.

Driving down to the Blitz 22-yard line on their next possession, the Bandits were called for holding on a third and two, to put them back to the 32. A four-yard gain made it fourth and eight with just over two minutes to play.

Hernandez rolled back to her right and tried to find Brown along the side line, but the Blitz defense was too much to handle, and the Bandits' hopes and desires to bring home a championship to the Bay Area came to an end.

After the game, General Manager Neda Mohammadi stated, "It was a battle for four quarters. Our defense did a great job containing the Blitz's passing game and forcing turnovers. We are proud of our accomplishments in our first season and are only going to become stronger from this experience.

"Thirty-four players left it all on the field," said Bandits coach Jim Goulden. "When we come back next year, we will definitely be a team to contend with as the foundation has been built for years to come. We took a big step forward in the IWFL this year as a new team. We will continue to move forward to reach our goal of an IWFL Championship in 2011."

At the award ceremony later that night, both the Montreal Blitz and Bay Area Bandits were presented with their awards. Mohammadi and tight end Danielle Golay graciously accepted the Bandits second-place plaque. Middle Linebacker and Tight End La Star Brown was named MVP of the game for the Bandits.

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