Outlaws Host Blaze on Saturday

Outlaws Host Blaze on Saturday
Photo courtesy of MaryLou Spence

The Austin Outlaws have three games left in the regular season. This Saturday, they play the New Orleans Blaze, whom they killed 42-6 during their home opener. Rested from a week off, the Outlaws should be ready for their first away game against the Blaze. Austin currently sits in third place, one game behind second-place Houston (4-1), and a game and a half behind the first place Oklahoma City Lightning (5-1). A Saturday win for the Outlaws and a loss for Houston against the Gulf Coast Hurricanes would mean a second-place seat for the girls in the National Womens Football Association South Central Division. The season’s clock is ticking, but the Outlaws could definitely make the playoffs. After all, Oklahoma does owe the Outlaws its record’s only blemish.

In their last game against the Cyclones (May 25), Houston beat the Outlaws 35-14. The Outlaws’ “Dark Side” defense played well in the high-scoring, physically demanding game. At the start of the second quarter, line(wo)man Jill Elliot sacked the Cyclones' quarterback. And at the half, Elliot helped the defense turn the ball over in just three minutes, tackling Houston’s star running back and wide receiver Raasin McIntosh and again sacking the team’s quarterback. This change in possession led to Shadana Hurd’s first touchdown of the game, and the team’s first six points. Linebacker Lucinda Benitez also had a particularly good game. Early in the fourth quarter, when the Outlaws really needed a rally, she broke up a key pass attempt on third and three, and then ended the drive with a hard tackle on fourth down.

The Outlaws’ offense did capitalize on some of the defense’s plays — displaying the team’s usual fire with two especially efficient touchdowns. Hurd’s first touchdown took just minutes, and she scored their second touchdown off a 53-yard run to the outside with 4:46 left on the clock. In the end, these spurts just couldn’t keep up with the Cyclones’ time of possession.

Fortunately, the Outlaws have had two weeks to put that loss behind them and work toward tomorrow’s game. The Blaze has a 4-2 record and averages 12.8 yards per pass attempt, which is pretty comparable to Austin’s 10.8. What New Orleans lacks is Austin’s amazing running game. The Outlaws currently average 8.2 yards per carry to the Blaze’s 4.6. At the start of the season, quarterback Julie Wilke cited Hurd and Monica Gauck’s speed as two of the team’s key assets. Hopefully their running game coupled with the Outlaws’ ever-improving passing game will again bring home a win.

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Jill Elliot, shadana hurd

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