Milligan hosts first collegiate flag football game in the state of Tennessee

Published 9:15 am Tuesday, April 16, 2024

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By Ron Marvel

Star Correspondent

For those in attendance this weekend as the Lady Buffs played host to the Reinhardt University Eagles, history took place as the first collegiate flag football game in Tennessee. For the Lady Buffs, it was a long time coming as they spent the first 15 games on the road. Lady Buffs head coach Ryan Witten acknowledged the importance of the day: “It was great to have Dr. Greer, President of Milligan, present in the stands along with many other professors and students watching. It’s also important that all my family was present to see the product that we’ve been working on. I’m so proud of our team for their commitment to each other and the leap of faith in entrusting me to help them all achieve their personal goals,” Coach Witten exclaimed.

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It is easy to see that women’s sports are experiencing a surge; you don’t have to look any further than the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship between Iowa and Connecticut and the fact that its viewership outpaced the men. Collegiate Flag Football represents yet another opportunity for females to compete. “With the growing popularity of women’s sports, this represents another avenue that’s opening for young athletes to attempt to have their dreams come true,” Witten shared. In addition, girls’ flag football is the fastest-growing sport in America.

Former Happy Valley High School Softball standout Blakelee Ollis appreciates being able to play a sport she and her father used to spend their weekends watching together. “To play for Coach Witten, he is someone who knows the game as well as anyone and he is always pushing us to be the best we can on and off the field. We are really paving the way, doing something different; so, the others that come after us can have an opportunity,” Ollis stated.

Even though Saturday’s game didn’t turn out the way the Lady Buffs wanted (a 20-7 loss to Reinhardt), this is a Lady Buff program that is growing by leaps and bounds. They had just two wins in their first three seasons and have chalked up seven wins this season. Clearly, the Lady Buffs were not happy with the result Saturday, but still, Coach Witten had nothing but praise for his young team: “Our team has developed an attitude of NEVER FLINCH! No matter the circumstances, no matter the outcome, our work ethic, our positive attitudes, and our shared responsibility to each other can’t be broken,” Witten added. As this young Milligan team gets more and more experience, the sky will be the limit for this program.

Statistically, on Saturday Bridget Keyser threw for 195 yards with a touchdown. Sam Urso led the way receiving with 68 yards and a score, Caitlin Quinn chipped in 59 yards receiving on five receptions. Defensively, Kiara Gusman-Sagapolu and Sophia Ortiz led the way, while Ollis and Ashton Whearley both had interceptions to kill Eagle drives.

It’s important to note that the Lady Buffs are playing without two of their better athletes due to injury: Destiny Johnson and Mykelah Davis, two tailbacks who can not only stretch the field but open it up in the middle. They are both a terror on the defensive side of the ball as well.

Milligan has two games left on the year, both next Saturday at Citizens Bank Stadium. They will play Campbellsville at 3 pm and North Carolina Central at 5 pm.