By Derek Fleming, staff writer, WNFC
At one point in the game, the Denver Bandits were down by a touchdown and the Utah Falconz were giving the team all they could handle. With under a minute to play in the first half, Kelly Washington blew past the Falconz defense and collected an 82-yard pass to get the Bandits to within one point.
Washington said that the Bandits offense has started to gel and is showing promise every week, even though the team continues to face stiff competition.
“I think, from my perspective as a receiver, I look for open space and whether my job is to distract somebody else or it's my chance to get the ball, I just tried to make sure I play that role for the team and be there,” Washington said. “I try to time it out with the quarterback and just be in the right place at the right time.”
Washington said that this is the first season she has played with quarterback Tori Tagaloa. They have been on the same team, but Washington played defense last year. Her four receptions against Utah catapulted her into the team lead for receptions and receiving yards this season.
Head Coach Marcell Simpson said that it wasn’t just the four receptions that made Washington such a valuable player for the Bandits in Week 7, she also opened up opportunities for the running game and other receivers.
"As usual it was a defensive battle. We were down 7 with only a few minutes remaining in the 1st half. Kelly was able to housecall a pass for us right before half time that gave the team much needed momentum,” Simpson said. “She also made some big catches to extend drives in the 2nd half and help the team keep momentum until the go-ahead field goal and ultimately the game winner.”
“I think the messaging for offense is always ‘You got to keep pushing, keep pressing,” Washington said. We have the mentality that we're going to score, we also have to be able to rely on our kicking team. We have people that can kick, we're in position and that'll put us up, so those are points also. I think the mentality is just to play together. Stick with the game plan and good things will happen.”
The 9-7 victory over Utah kept the Denver Bandits undefeated this season and tied up for the Number 1 seed as the WNFC enters the final week of the regular season. The Bandits will host the Seattle Majestics in Week 8 and the team will likely call on Washington again to keep pace in the Pacific Conference.