Venom subdues Atlanta

By Wes Holtsclaw

   From the opening kickoff to the final play of the game, the Tennessee Venom knew they had their hands on their second home victory of the season.
   The visiting Atlanta Leopards squad was missing some players, thus the Venom loaned a group of their best to assist the Atlanta squad during the outing.
   Initially, Atlanta put up a fight, but a 154-yard rushing performance from Megan Hall and an all-around defensive effort helped the Venom topple the Leopards 46-14 Saturday night in WNFA action at Happy Valley High School.
   "It was a well-deserved win," said Venom coach Jeff Gethers. "We've struggled the last couple of weeks with injuries and tonight we sucked it up and executed. The running backs followed their blocks and moved the ball up and down the field."
   "They were in a tough situation where some of their players got lost, but we still wanted to put a game on for these fans, so some of our players decided to play with Atlanta and get some time the entire game."
   Tough defense from Brenda Brandolini and Tameasha Marks pushed the Atlanta squad backwards in its first possession.
   Tennessee followed with two big gains from Hall to set up a 1-yard touchdown from Lisa Rogers. A Hall conversion put Tennessee up 8-0.
   Both squads were solid defensively, allowing no scores into the second quarter.
   Hall took a hold of four big gains for the Venom to set up a Tammy Woodle reverse for a score. A Susan Greenway conversion put the green-clad ladies up 16-0.
   Atlanta couldn't get anything going offensively, struggling with Cherie Collins and Mary Jackson making several attempts rushing. This eventually caught up with the squad as Woodle stepped in front of a pass and took it 60 yards the other way.
   Jennifer Mayberry followed the score with two more points to carry a 24-0 lead over Atlanta into the second half.
   Tennessee picked up where it left off in the second half with an 11-yard gain from Greenway. Runs of 16 and 14 from Hall set up her five-yard score to the outside. Another Mayberry conversion put the Venom up 32-0, but Atlanta would soon gather a score of its own.
   After an offsides penalty on the first play, Collins broke loose on a 46-yard scamper toward Milligan Highway to close the gap at 32-6.
   Solid defense from the Leopards put Atlanta in position again, this time with a short pass from Jackson to Collins. Collins took the ball and broke loose into the open field, where none of the Venom could catch her.
   A conversion from Jackson made it 32-14.
   Tennessee bounced back with two plays. Quarterback Vanessa Burke tossed a short pass to Woddle, who scrambled 40 yards. A run from Hall set up a seven-yard score from Greenway, with a Burke conversion taking a 40-14 lead.
   Atlanta couldn't hold onto the ball during their next possession as Megan Stratton stripped Collins and put the Venom in solid position for another score.
   Marks opened things up with a quick 17-yard gain for Tennessee before Burke started rifling the ball down the Happy Valley turf.
   Burke hit Mayberry with two straight passes before Mayberry took a five-yarder into the end zone. The conversion attempt failed for the Venom, but it secured a 46-14 lead.
   Atlanta had one final chance as Jackson and Collins rushed their way across the turf.
   A 26-yard pass to Anica Hariston put the Leopards in scoring position, but Burke picked off the next pass and ran it out of bounds as the time expired to prevent the opposing score for Tennessee.
   Geathers was pleased with his squad's performance and looks forward to the team's future.
   "We've improved over the course of the year considering the circumstances," he said. "We've gotten better and better with injuries and players out of position. We still have players learning new positions, but I think it will only make us better in the future."