Staff Photographer: Brendan Sullivan Casey Adams , left, Jay Eubanks, center, Chris Anthony, right, were among the thousand attend the home opener Legends Football League game between the Atlanta Steam and the Omaha Heart at the Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth Saturday. The Atlanta Steam will play two of their four games in Gwinnett.
DULUTH -- The atmosphere was electric as more than 2,000 fans showed up for the Atlanta Steam's home opener in the Legend's Football League at the Arena at the Gwinnett Center.
In the end, all went home happy as the Steam bulldozed the Omaha Heart 42-6.
And, as many fans would say, this was no powder-puff football game.
"I came here and thought this was going to be some sort of two-hand touch football game," Atlanta resident Jerome Magee said. "I thought they would be lollipopping around, but these girls are laying big hits on each other."
There was no two-hand touch about the game as both teams laid hits that would make a normal person cringe.
Dressed in nothing more than a tight uniform with small shoulder pads and a hockey helmet with a visor, players from both sides flew around the field, putting their bodies on the line.
"It takes a lot of courage to do what they're doing," said former Georgia Tech offensive lineman Joseph Gilbert. "All they have protecting them is a small set of pads and a visor. We had a lot more protecting us in college football.
"Plus, I know how carpeted turf feels and it's not fun. I have mad respect for them doing what they do in those small uniforms."
Like many others, Gilbert and Magee were intrigued by the football league and had to come see the action for themselves.
"It's exciting to watch," Magee said. "They're hitting the heck out of each other, holding nothing back. I'll definitely be back to watch them and so should more people."
Gilbert remarked at how the offensive linewomen were actually kicking back to block, like they should, adding it was impressive.
"They know their football," he said.
From the opening whistle until the final horn, fans at the Arena kept the energy up.
"This place was really rocking," said head coach Ray Norell. "It was unbelievable to see how many people came out to support us."
Once the excitement of the introductions were over, Atlanta got down to business.
A seven-yard touchdown run by Nasira Johnson put the Steam up early in the first quarter. From there, Atlanta (1-1) ran up the score, jumping out to a 21-0 lead before halftime.
As Omaha attempted to score just before the break, the Steam came up with a goal-line stand, using a holding penalty and three negative rushing plays to turn the ball over on downs.
The second half was much of the same as Cynthia Freeman and Johnson continued to run up the score and barrel over the Heart.
The play got so rough in fact, that there were multiple scuffles, which got the fans fired up.
Alfye Gore sent the fans home happy with a 16-yard interception return with 13 seconds to go in the game, giving the Steam their final points.
"I'm proud of these girls because we changed the offense in the last week," Norell said. "It wasn't fun losing 46-0 last week, but we came out and fought hard. This is four months of hard work that has paid off."