Minnesota Machine at Minnesota Vixen
0-1, forfeit win
Game 7 – 5/27/17
St. Louis Slam at Minnesota Vixen
Game 6 – 5/20/17
Minnesota Vixen at Kansas City Titans
Some of the most difficult things to do in a football season: Beat a team twice, get a win on the road, and shut a team out twice. The Minnesota Vixen managed two out of three when they completed the season sweep with a 54-14 victory over the Kansas City Titans on May 20 at Shawnee Mission High School.
The Vixen wasted no time in getting on the scoreboard; Minnesota’s first play from scrimmage was a toss to Grace Cooper, who stormed 64 yards up the right sideline to the end zone. Katie Muller’s kick was short but the Vixen had a 6-0 early lead.
The teams traded punts and turnovers for most of the rest of the first quarter before Kiersten Hansen and Sam Barber connected for a touchdown from six yards out with 15 seconds remaining in the period. Muller’s kick was good for a 13-0 Vixen lead.
In the second quarter, Minnesota’s offense was on a roll, scoring four touchdowns on six possessions. Cooper scored again, Barber scored twice, and Amanda Dvorak also got into the end zone. Cooper’s touchdown was a 79-yard toss to the right. Barber caught passes of 6 and 49 yards from Hansen. Dvorak’s 14-yard catch capped a 64-yard drive. The Vixen owned a 41-0 lead at the half, coincidentally the same final score as the teams’ earlier contest in Minnesota.
Kansas City fumbled on their first possession of the second half, but scored on two consecutive drives after that. The Titans went for 2-point conversions after both scores and only converted one. Another Vixen touchdown, a 3-yard Cooper run, and a good kick by Muller left the score at 48-14 at the end of three quarters.
Fourth quarter action saw Kansas City unable to score again, punting three times and fumbling once. Minnesota scored again on a 21-yard run by Cooper, making the final score 54-14.
The Vixen had 253 rushing yards and 287 passing yards for a combined total of 540 yards. Cooper had 230 yards on 19 carries for 4 touchdowns. Barber led the air attack with 177 yards and 3 touchdowns on eight catches. Dvorak added 25 yards rushing and 8 catches for 79 yards with a touchdown. Hansen went 21 for 36 for 271 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. Kenzie Anderson was 1 for 4 for 6 yards and a touchdown.
On defense, Crystal Ninas led the way with 5.5 tackles. Twelve of the team’s 45 tackles went for a loss. Madison Schmatz and Sheena Reed each recovered two fumbles. Connor Jo Lewis, Anne Thiessen and Mikayla Soule all notched interceptions. Kansas City was held to an average of 3 yards per carry and 4 yards per reception on the night.
The Vixen (5-1, 2-1 Division 1) now head home to face the undefeated Division 2 defending champion St. Louis Slam on May 27, while Kansas City (3-4, 0-2 Division 1) will head north and play the Minnesota Machine that same day.
Game 5 – 5/6/17
Minnesota Vixen at Chicago Force
The Minnesota Vixen knew they had to have a top-notch performance in all facets of the game to beat the Chicago Force and remain undefeated, but couldn’t find their groove and suffered a 53-0 loss on May 6 at Evanston Township High School.
Chicago got off to a fast start with Cassey Brick’s 79-yard opening kickoff return for a touchdown. Minnesota’s offense began strong, marching from its own 26-yard line to the Force 38 in 9 plays before having to punt, but then had just one drive that lasted more than four downs before halftime. Meanwhile, Chicago scored four more touchdowns, one on a punt return, and added a field goal to lead 39-0 at halftime.
The second half saw the Vixen defense come up with a fumble recovery and interception yet not able to keep Chicago from scoring twice more. On offense, Minnesota punted three times, lost a fumble and turned it over on downs.
Quarterback Kiersten Hansen was the night’s leading rusher, garnering 12 yards on 6 carries. Grace Cooper added 11 yards on 10 tough carries, along with 17 yards on 4 catches. In addition, the offensive line put up a great fight, only allowing one sack against a swarming Chicago defense. Hansen was 12 of 24 for 77 yards. Sam Barber caught 6 passes for 61 yards. Minnesota had just 94 yards of total offense but also its least-penalized game of the season.
On defense, Madison Schmatz and Erin Tilford each had 7.5 tackles, with at least one tackle by 8 other Vixen. Crystal Ninas and Red Bryant recovered fumbles and Anne Thiessen had an interception.
Minnesota falls to 4-1, and 1-1 in Division 1 play. They are off for a week, then hit the road for a rematch with the Kansas City Titans (2-2, 0-1 D1) on May 20.
Game 4 – 4/29/17
Kansas City Titans at Minnesota Vixen
The last time the Minnesota Vixen played a team from the Sunflower State, they were both in another league, the southerly team was named the Tribe, and Minnesota had fewer than 30 players on the roster. That day, the Tribe was the victor.
But time passes, fortunes change, and a Vixen squad of 50-plus players collected four pick sixes by three different players, three sacks and three fumble recoveries on their way to a 41-0 victory over the Kansas City Titans on April 29 at Simley High School.
Cool temperatures and a steady breeze could not keep an enthusiastic and boisterous crowd of over 500 from witnessing the Vixen defense buckle down and shut down Kansas City’s running and passing games, including standout wide receiver Liz Sowers, whose sister Katie is a former quarterback for the Titans and now works in the Atlanta Falcons organization. In 2016, Sowers caught 26 passes for 442 yards and 4 touchdowns, good for ninth in the league.
The task of covering Sowers fell to second-year linebacker Crystal Ninas. “I was super nervous, but I just took it one play at a time,” said Ninas, who sent the Vixen to the 2016 championship game in their former league with a 100-yard pick six in double overtime against the New York Sharks. Ninas would return one interception 48 yards for a touchdown in this game.
The Vixen started the game with the ball but had to punt. On third and 4 for Kansas City, defensive end Drue Barber penetrated the pocket and forced Kansas City quarterback Brooke Liebsch to fumble. Cynthia “Red” Bryant recovered for the Vixen, setting Minnesota up on the Kansas City 23.
Minnesota couldn’t capitalize, however, and a bad handoff exchange resulted in a fumble and the Titans taking over on the Vixen’s 7 yard line. But two plays later, Sheena Reed popped the ball out and Liz Bain recovered it on the Titans 15. A pass interference penalty on Kansas City gave Minnesota first and goal on the 2, and Kiersten Hansen squirted through the line on second down for a 1-yard score. Katie Muller’s extra point was good and the Vixen led 7-0. Erin Tilford’s 60-yard interception return for a touchdown put the Vixen up 14-0 at the end of the first quarter. Neither team scored in the second quarter, despite Minnesota having first and goal on the 1 after a diving 31-yard reception by Amanda Dvorak on third and 3. Angela Griffin lost two yards on first down followed by two incomplete passes, then Muller’s field goal attempt was low and short.
The second half saw more defensive dominance by the Vixen, with rookie Connor Jo Lewis snaring two pick sixes for 46 and 72 yards. On the kickoff after Lewis’ second interception and score, Anne Thiessen caused a fumble that was recovered by Jodi “Moose” Rehlander to put the offense back on the field. In addition, Lewis clawed the ball out of the arms of a Kansas City runner to give Minnesota the ball back one play after the Titans recovered a muffed punt in Vixen territory early in the fourth quarter.
Overall, defensive end Madison Schmatz tipped three passes incomplete. Liebsch was sacked twice by the Vixen and knocked out of the game in the third quarter on a blitz by Bain. Reed and Griffin had Minnesota’s other two sacks. The Titans were held to 8 rushing yards on 30 carries, 62 total yards passing on 32 attempts, and three first downs.
Emily Evans finished the game at quarterback for Minnesota, going 3-for-3 and connecting with Sam Barber twice on the final scoring drive for 80 yards and a touchdown.
Hansen was 9 of 24 passing attempts for 98 yards and a touchdown. Barber had 6 catches for 131 yards and a touchdown. After Grace Cooper left the game in the first quarter due to injury, the Vixen used a committee of Mikaila Soule, Angela Griffin and Andri Vogt at running back. The trio combined for 44 yards on 19 carries. Minnesota had 216 total offensive yards and 10 first downs.
Kansas City falls to 2-2 (0-1 Division 1) and Minnesota improves to 4-0 (1-0 D1). The Vixen’s next game is against the 2013 WFA champion Chicago Force (4-0, 1-0 D1) on Saturday, May 6, in Evanston, Il.
Game 3 – 4/22/17
Nebraska Stampede at Minnesota Vixen
0-1, forfeit win
Game 2 – 4/8/17
Minnesota Vixen at Minnesota Machine
It was a story nearly 10 years in the making, but the first chapter of crosstown contests between the two North Star State franchises in the Women’s Football Alliance finished with an exclamation point when the Minnesota Vixen handed the Minnesota Machine a 62-2 loss at Osseo High School.
Although the Machine began play in 2009, the two teams had never met on the field prior to this season due to the Vixen being in a different league. When the Vixen switched to the WFA in 2017, a collision was all but guaranteed. While both organizations were eager to start the rivalry with a victory, the Vixen’s larger roster and deeper talent were too much for the Machine in the end.
Both teams started out a bit tentative, trading punts on their first possessions. The Vixen got going on their next drive, however, starting on the Machine’s 38-yard line and scoring after an 8-yard run by workhorse running back Grace Cooper and a 30-yard catch and run by tight end Sam Barber. The ensuing PAT was blocked, and the Machine’s Sami Linberg picked up the loose ball and scampered the length of the field for a safety. That would end up being the only Machine score of the night.
The Vixen defense had the Machine pinned down on third and 14 on their own 27 when Erin “Tilly” Tilford ran back an interception for a touchdown. The Vixen looked to break the game wide open on their next drive, but after two consecutive first down runs by Cooper, a bad snap was recovered by the Machine. The Machine however, failed to capitalize and had to punt the ball away.
The next Vixen drive was all Cooper, who gained almost a third of her 142 total rushing yards on 5 carries over the next six plays. Barber caught a 9-yard touchdown and the Vixen took the lead 14-2 when Angela Griffin ran it in for a 2-point conversion.
The Vixen would score three more times on their way to a 42-2 lead at the half. The second half was played with running time. Another pick six by Erin “Tilly” Tilford in the third quarter, plus one more score each from Barber and Mikaila Soule, accounted for the final score of 62-2.
On defense, the Vixen held the Machine to negative yardage (1 yard on 18 passes and -60 rushing yards on 19 carries) and only 2 first downs. Outside linebackers Crystal Ninas and Connor Jo Lewis each had 4½ tackles. Anne Thiessen added another interception and the team finished with 14 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 1 fumble recovery to go with Tilford’s two picks.
The Vixen had 358 yards of total offense, 203 rushing and 155 passing, including 17 first downs. Griffin rushed for a trio of 2-point conversions, and Katie Muller was good on 2 of 3 PATs. Kiersten Hansen was 6-of-13 for 122 yards passing with 4 touchdowns and no interceptions. Backup quarterback Kenzie Anderson completed 2 of 4 pass attempts for 33 yards and a touchdown. Cooper had 14 carries with a touchdown, and added 2 catches for 42 yards and a touchdown. Barber led all receivers with 4 catches for 85 yards and 4 touchdowns.
The Vixen now look forward to their home opener, a Division 1 matchup against the Kansas City Titans on April 29 at Simley High School. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. Central.
Game 1 – 4/1/17
Minnesota Vixen at Madison Blaze
On a beautiful early spring evening in the Midwest, the Minnesota Vixen opened their 2017 season in grand fashion, using an arsenal of weapons to churn out just over 500 yards of combined offense in a 44-0 shutout of their longtime rivals, the Madison Blaze.
It was both teams’ inaugural matchup under the Women’s Football Alliance umbrella. The Vixen, who lost to the Utah Falconz in the 2016 Independent Women’s Football League championship, were eager to build on a season in which they posted six shutouts and set attendance records at nearly every game. The Blaze, meanwhile, were looking to re-establish dominance in a new league after a 5-4 finish in 2016.
Madison started the game with the ball near midfield, but two tackles for loss and an incomplete pass had them punting to the Vixen, who took over on their own 16 yard line. Minnesota looked stalled at third and 11 on their own 26 when a mad scramble and heave by second-year QB Kiersten Hansen ended in a 66-yard reception by rookie tight end Samantha Barber for first and goal. A few plays later, Hansen stuck it in from 1 yard out for the game’s first score. A good PAT by Katie Muller had the Vixen up 7-0.
Two possessions later, Hansen and Barber hooked up again for a 37-yard score. Minnesota’s defense continued to harass Madison for the rest of the first half, sacking QB Paisley Bennett five times, allowing only one first down and standing tall to prevent a score when the Blaze had first and goal on the 4 yard line early in the second quarter. Madison’s defense also showed some mettle, sacking Hansen on second and goal from the 11 and intercepting Hansen on the next play.
Undaunted, the Vixen defense answered with a safety and Minnesota owned a 16-0 lead at the half.
The second half was all Minnesota, with Madison only taking 16 snaps on offense. Linebacker Crystal Ninas led the way with 5½ tackles, followed by defensive end Sheriba Dunn with four tackles and three sacks. Madison Schmatz added 2½ tackles and two sacks. The Vixen had 2 safeties, 18 tackles for loss and 10 sacks total, plus a fumble recovery (forced by Sheena Reed and recovered by Cynthia “Red” Bryant) and two interceptions (one a 66-yard score by Connor Jo Lewis).
On offense, Barber added another touchdown reception in the second half, and Grace Cooper caught three passes for 40 yards and pounded her way to 110 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries in her women’s football debut. Speedy rookie Mikaila Soule had 7 carries for 50 yards and the Vixen’s final touchdown. Muller was good on four of five PATs. Hansen was 12-of-24 passing and rushed 9 times for 37 yards. Overall, the offense generated 505 yards of total offense, 241 on the ground and 264 in the air.
The team’s next contest is Saturday, April 8, against the Minnesota Machine at Osseo Senior High School. Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. Central.