15th MXG preserves perfect record with late comeback

Airman 1st Class Marcus Atkinson picks up a few yards on a keeper. Atkinson scored the game-winning touchdown with only 10 seconds on the clock.

Story and photo by Randy Dela Cruz

Sports Editor, Ho‘okele

Down by four points with only 1:03 remaining on the clock, the 15th Maintenance Group (15 MXG) marched down the field for 65 yards and a game-winning touchdown to win by a score of 20-18 over the 690th Cyberspace Operations Squadron (690 COS) on Nov. 8 in a Blue Division intramural flag football game at Ward Field, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

The win represented the eighth consecutive win for the 15 MXG, which finished the regular season at the top of the Blue Division with a record of 8-0 and became one of only three undefeated teams at Joint Base for the season.

Things were not so pleasant for the 690 COS, which needed the win to advance into the playoffs, but instead fell entirely out of the postseason with a record of 4-4.

Immediately after taking an 18-14 lead late in the game, the 690 COS defense only needed to come up with a stop to seal the game and a spot in the playoffs.

However, the 15 MXG, under the leadership of quarterback Airman 1st Class Marcus Atkinson staged one of the most dramatic comebacks of the 2017 season.

Starting at his own 15, Atkinson connected on two consecutive passes that placed the ball deep in 690 COS territory at the 11-yard line.

An incomplete pass stopped the clock with only 10 seconds remaining in the game, before Atkinson took the snap on second down and ran a keeper right down the middle of the field for the game winner.

“We put what happened behind us,” said 15 MXG team captain Master Sgt. Kiwan Edwards. “As a team, we just had to come together and say ‘let’s do what we know how to do.’ We can move the ball downfield. We’ve been doing it all game, so if we continue to do that, everything would come to fruition and it will be good.”

The frenzied finish was a fitting way to end the battle, which teeter-tottered back and forth throughout the night.

The first big play came on an interception by Airman 1st

Class David Brown, which gave the 15 MXG good field position at the 690 COS 36-yard line.

The drive ended without any points and seemed to swing momentum back to the 690 COS, which began with the ball at their own 15 and took it to the end zone on a drive that covered 65 yards on eight plays.

Staff Sgt. Spencer Davies caught a pass from quarterback military family member Brad Clingler for the score and a 6-0 lead.

Later, the 690 COS went out to a 12-0 lead on a scoring pass from Clingler to Lt. Christopher Campbell.

With their back against the wall, the 15 MXG finally responded with a scoring drive of their own just before halftime.

Running a hurry-up offense, Atkinson drove the team down-field, needing only five plays to drive 65 yards and a touch-down.

The scoring play came on a toss from Atkinson to Edwards that made it 12-6 at intermission.

In the second half, an error by the 690 COS special teams allowed the 15 MXG to take their first lead of the game.

Punting deep in their own territory, the 690 COS lost the ball on downs, when the ball was hiked over the head of the punter to turn it over to the 15 MXG only eight yards away from the end zone.

Two plays later, Atkinson hit Staff Sgt. Tyler Jenkins for a touchdown to tie the score, before finishing off a two-point conversion for a 14-12 advantage.

The 690 COS managed to retake the lead on a pass from Clinger to Staff Sgt. JC Lawary for a touchdown, but the team couldn’t stop the 15 MXG from stealing the game in the final seconds.

With the 15 MXG advancing to the playoffs on Nov. 18-20, the team will have to do it without the services of their team captain, Edwards, who will be off-island celebrating his wedding.

Still, Edwards said that he believes that the 15 MXG would do well and might even surprise a few by bringing home the title.

“I wouldn’t be surprised at all,” he said. “This is my first year here and speaking to the guys who have been here for a few years, this is the best team that they’ve been on. I’m looking forward to it. It would be icing on the cake.”

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Category: Sports