Your Iowa Thunder completed the most successful football season in Iowa Women’s Football history with a 33-14 victory on Saturday, June 19th, 2010 in Kansas City against their divisional rivals the Kansas City Spartans.
This road trip started off in a very ominous fashion with a blown tire on their charter bus that delayed their arrival to Spartan Stadium by more than one and half hours. Despite the adversity, the Thunder coaching staff took full advantage of the stop along I-35 by completing a vast majority of their pre-game walkthrough at a small truck stop. The delay along I-35 would push back the start of the contest by 20 minutes and early in the contest seemed to really affect the Thunder.
Early in the contest the Spartans struck first on a long pass play caused by a blown assignment by the Thunder secondary. This additional adversity though only seemed to awaken the Thunder in all facets of their game and shortly thereafter the Thunder regained the lead and never looked back.
Offensively the Thunder for the first time in their two year history fired on all cylinders in both the passing and rushing game at the same time. The Player of the Game for all those in attendance were the ladies of the Offensive Line of the Thunder which dealt with six and seven man rushes all evening and only gave up only one sack and helped their offense move the ball for over 420 yards (179 Passing, 241 Rushing). 2009 American Conference MVP Jennifer Boling (14 Carries, 216 Yards, 2 Touchdowns) led the rushing attack, including a team record 96 Yard touchdown in theearly part of the 4th Quarter which made the score 27-14 and surpassed her league best 1266 yards in 2009 with a 1267 yard campaign this season. Quarterback Courtney Axline (8 of 12, 154 Yards, 2 Touchdowns), who missed most of the 2010 season due to the birth of her son, Cooper, returned to her 2009 form. The entire Thunder receiving corp would get involved on this evening. Kendra Parker (3 Receptions, 83 Yards, 2 Touchdowns) would lead all receivers with the help of Sara Trammel (3 Receptions, 46 Yards), Steph Langstraat (2 Receptions, 20 Yards), Jennifer Boling (2 Receptions, 20 Yards), and Ashley Blackford (1 Reception, 10 Yards).
Offensive Coordinator Isaiah Shnurman stated after the game, “I am really proud of my offense. I wish we would have been able to get to this point earlier in the season, but the truth is that if I had to have a choice, I would not trade this season or how it has progressed for anything. We have had to overcome a lot and learn on the fly and I am so excited that we are executing the way we are going into the playoffs. The Spartans are the most athletic defense we have faced all season and playing them the last week before the playoffs and doing what we did have given us a lot of confidence.”
Defensively, the Thunder continued to show that nothing would come easy for any team they have to encounter. This year’s Defense improved upon their total points given up lowering their mark from 101 in 2009 to 99 in 2010 (14 Points given up by Offense). Linebackers Jennifer Hirakawa (16 Total Tackles, 2 Tackles for Loss) and Cindy Taft (9 Total Tackles, 1 Tackles for Loss) would lead the defense statistically. Big individual plays from Lulu Keoothai (5 Total Tackles, 3 Tackles for Loss, and 1 Fumble Recovery returned for 50 Yards), Amanda Brakke (6 Total Tackles, 2 Interceptions), and Bri Robinson (3 Total Tackles, 3 Tackles for Loss, 2 Forced Fumbles, 2 Fumble Recoveries) helped the defense to shut down the Spartan rushing and passing attack.
On special teams, Allie Millonig continued her amazing rookie season with a 30 yard Punt Return for a touchdown which put the game away at 33-14.
“I am so proud of my team. Our number one goal coming into this season was to improve upon our record, which we did and to make the playoffs, which we did. We have overcome a lot of adversity this year versus our 2009 season internally, but it has made us a much better team and brought us together in a way I never imagined. This is the second game in a row all three phases of our team has performed at a high level and getting to this point at this time of the season gives us a lot of confidence. We are thoroughly excited and ready to go up to Minnesota and play the Machine again at their place,” stated Head Coach William Grimes.
The Thunder (6-2) takes on the Minnesota Machine (6-2) in the opening round of the WFA playoffs on Saturday, June 26th, 2010. The Thunder would next play again with a victory over the Machine at home against the Lonestar Mustangs (8-0) or on the road versus the Pacific Warriors (7-1) depending on the results of their June 26th, 2010 contest.