CANTON, Ohio — In the rich history book of Boston sports, a team that may have been a footnote is now writing its own chapter.
The Boston Renegades won their third straight and sixth overall Women’s Football Alliance championship with a 42-26 victory over the Minnesota Vixen Saturday at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton.
Quarterback Allison Cahill, the WFA’s MVP in her 18th season of professional football, completed 21 of 34 passes for 218 yards with three touchdowns and another score on the ground on her way to the game’s most valuable player honors.
“This was the goal and since we didn’t get to play last year this was extra sweet,” Cahill said. “Once our offense got into a rhythm, we are hard to stop, and our defense really picked us up.”
Her TD passes went to Adrianne Smith, Ruth Matta, and Emily Beinecke. Matta and Chante Bonds also had rushing touchdowns.
The Vixen, playing in the title game in their first season in the WFA’s highest division, were led by running back Grace Cooper, who had 18 rushes for 192 yards and four touchdowns.
The Vixen took the game’s first possession deep into Renegade territory but a tackle for loss by Allie Genereux ended up stopping the drive on downs.
The teams then traded possessions and after the Renegades’ first touchdown, a 22-yard pass from Cahill to Smith started the scoring. Minnesota came right back two plays later as Cooper got loose for a 62-yard touchdown scamper, but the extra point was no good and it was 7-6 with just more than seven minutes in the half.
Cahill then engineered a 13-play drive that ended with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Matta and with 2:22 before halftime it was 14-6.
Minnesota went three and out with a big sack from Hannah Jennings.
There were then a pair of turnovers in a span of five plays as Cahill was picked off by Mikaila Soule but on the very next play, Vixen quarterback Errin McIsaac could not handle the snap and Nicole Gordon recovered it to give Boston one more chance before halftime.
Cahill took the remaining 47 seconds and completed four passes — the last of those went 23 yards to Beinecke and gave Boston a 21-6 halftime lead.
Minnesota got back in the game on its first possession of the second half as Cooper had a 40-yard touchdown run and ran in the 2-point conversion to get the Vixen within 7.
On the next drive, the Renegades turned things over to Bonds as she caught a 15-yard pass then took the ball on six consecutive running plays and chewed up 44 yards including a 2-yard dive into the end zone which pushed the lead to 28-14 at the 9:26 mark of the third quarter.
Renegade pressure ended another Minnesota drive as Jen Tamillio had a sack, but Boston could not take advantage as Cahill threw her second interception of the game. The Renegade defense picked her up again though, forcing a turnover on the very next play as Jennings forced and recovered a fumble.
Cooper added two more rushing scores in the fourth quarter while the Renegades got a five-yard TD run from Matta and Cahill put an exclamation point on the night with a 31-yard touchdown run.
“I think about players and all the work they put in to win this championship,” said Boston coach John Johnson. “We are so grateful to everyone around our team, the Patriots for their support and to win a title here in Canton at the Pro Football Hall of Fame is very special.”
The Renegades had support in Ohio as a division of Minutemen who have been at their home games complete with costumes and rifles made the trek while the other six-time football champion in town lent a hand. The Patriots’ social media channels wished the team good luck and owner Robert Kraft surprised the team by offering up the team plane to get them to Ohio.
He jokingly told them they needed the trophy to get the ride home … Mission accomplished.