• Atlanta Veterans Memorial Arena - Jacksonville, FL Saturday, March 30, 2013 - 8:00PM ET Jacksonville


    • 0
    • 48
    Standings 2-2
    2-2 Standings

    Veterans Memorial Arena - Jacksonville, FL Saturday, March 30, 2013 - 8:00PM ET

    It is a tough order to open your season on the road against a veteran team. The expansion franchise Atlanta Steam made their LFL debut this evening in front of a tough crowd at Veterans Memorial Arena. Their welcome into the league was brutal.
         Jacksonville had heard enough about the departure of the so called best defensive player in the league, who’s name I won’t mention here out of respect to the Breeze defense. Saturday night, they were relentless against the run, swarmed to every tackle, and made the evening less than ideal for Atlanta rookie quarterback Brittany Morgan. Despite a few successful scrambles here and there that made for positive yardage, Morgan was under fire all night long completeing just 7 of her 20 pass attempts for 46 yards and 2 interceptions.
         Leading up to tonight’s game the Steam were under the impression that feeding the ball to Nasira “Nas” Johnson and Cynthia “Sweetness” Freeman would be a good way of alleviating pressure from Morgan. Unfortunately “Nas” was unable to find any success out of the backfield and now is quite aware of just how solid those sideline walls are. Meanwhile “Sweetness” was ineffective and struggled to get into any sort of rhythm. The two of them combined for 11 rushes for just 30 yards on the ground. Jacksonville’s Lauren Ziegler (9.5 Tackles), Adrian Purnell (2 defensive touchdowns), and Saige Steinmetz (7 Tackles, 1 Sack) made life miserable for Atlanta’s offense delivering viscous hits time after time in the open field and displaying a truly tenacious pass rush.
         Jacksonville drove down easily in their first possession. A confident looking KK Matheny started fast, standing taller than ever in the pocket and making accurate throws. The Breeze charged down the field and capped off their opening drive with a sweeping 4 yard scamper into the end zone from Shelltrice Turner. Turner capped off her TD with a 2-point conversion and the Breeze were off to 8-0 start.
    Atlanta 4 and out.
         Lauren Ziegler’s contributions didn’t only come on defense. She found pay dirt on Jacksonville’s next drive running for a 13 yard score and putting Jacksonville up 14-0 at the end of the 1st quarter.
         Atlanta couldn’t get anything going deep in their own territory on the ensuing drive, and just as Brittany Morgan looked to be getting sacked at the 5-yard line, an impulsive pass attempt resulted in a pick six for Breeze safety Adrian Purnell. After an easy 2-point conversion from Purnell, Jacksonville was up 22-0 before Atlanta could take a breath. Things were getting out of hand in a hurry for the Steam, and just when Atlanta looked like they might make it to the second half with no further damage, a fumbled toss play was scooped up by Adrian Purnell and returned 37 yards all the way back for her second defensive touchdown of the quarter.
         Finally, after falling a few yards short of their first LFL touchdown on the last play of the first half, the Steam were able to head for the locker room to regroup down 28-0. Ray Norell was flabbergasted as he walked off the field. Inside the locker room he was determined to find the answer to the problems Jacksonville was causing. Adjustments had to be made, game plans had to be changed, and the maturation of a team suffering an embarrassing start to their franchise had to begin as soon as possible.
         The Breeze came back out to field with even more confidence than they started with. As the defense took the field, they were all smiles. Perhaps a lesser team might lose focus and let their demoralized opponent string a few plays together and fight their way back into the game. Unfortunately for the Steam, the Breeze continued their lights out defensive assault, immediately squashing another Steam drive by pressuring Morgan and stopping every rushing attempt well into the backfield.
         Once again, on the next Jacksonville drive, Adrian Purnell found the end zone on a 5-yard catch from Matheny for her third touchdown of the game. Saige Steinmetz rushed in for a 1 yard touchdown a few minutes later to end the third quarter.
         With a 42-0 lead heading into the fourth, the Breeze were cruising to an easy win to start their 2013 season. A powerful 10-yard touchdown run from Angie Williams ended the game and made a statement across the rest of the league that the Jacksonville Breeze are ready to make another run at a championship.
         The Breeze will ride this 48-0 shutout victory for the next two months as they prepare for their next game against the Baltimore Charm on May 25th. Meanwhile the Steam will head back home and attempt to fix things quickly as they take on the Omaha Heart in Atlanta in just two weeks on April 13th.