MVP Horton sparks title-game rout for Passion

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ROCK HILL, S.C. -- Passion quarterback Lisa Horton is still making up her mind whether she wants to continue playing football.

The decision-making process just got a lot harder for Horton, who led the Passion to a 41-7 victory against the Houston Energy for the Independent Women's Football League world championship Saturday at District Three Stadium.

Horton, named the game's most valuable player, threw for 180 yards and one touchdown, and ran for another score that boosted the Passion (11-0) to its second national title since 2007 and its first in the IWFL.

"This is going to make it harder to step away now," said Horton, who also was on the Passion's 2007 championship team.

"With our team, it's more than just football. We're a family, and it's awesome seeing the younger ones come in. I've just got to take this a step at a time. I've got a great life in [Washington,] D.C., but this makes the commute worth it."

Horton wasn't a solo act, though -- wide receiver Rachel Wojdowski caught six passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns and running back Ciara Chic ran for 124 yards and two touchdowns.

"Our players were like, 'This is it -- we've got to empty the tank,' " said Passion coach Teresa Conn, who co-owns the team along with former Steelers running back Franco Harris. "They went out there and knew there was no tomorrow.

'We have a lot of girls retiring, so it was like everybody was playing for someone else."

The Passion piled up more than 450 yards total offense and 20 first downs against the Energy (7-2), which led, 7-6, at the end of the first quarter on Laura Cantu's 12-yard touchdown pass to Eshombi Singleton midway through the period.

But the Passion got its offense on track in the second quarter, thanks in part to its defense, which forced three first-half interceptions and two second-half fumbles.

"We have been so balanced," Conn said.

"Our offense is amazing, but our special teams always contribute, and our defense ... well, everybody knows that at this level, you've got to have a good defense if you want to get to the championship game."

Cantu threw for 169 yards for the Energy, but her first interception was returned 53 yards by Passion defensive back Michelle Peters for the first touchdown.

Her second interception set up the Passion's second touchdown -- Horton's 16-yard pass to Wojdowski -- and Cantu's third one set up a 23-yard scoring run by Chic that put the Passion ahead, 27-7, at halftime.

Horton also had a 1-yard scoring plunge midway through the second, which was set up by the first of consecutive onside kick recoveries by the Passion.

"It just clicked," Horton said. "At that point, we just said, 'Let's have some fun.' "

Chic added an 8-yard scoring run on the first series of the second half for a 34-7 lead. The Passion's final score came when backup quarterback Angela Baker found Wojdowski with a 45-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter.

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