Asheville downs O’Kane for third win of season

Torpedoman’s Mate Fireman Rico Blankholm reaches past two defenders to make a catch.

Story and photo by Randy Dela Cruz

Sports Editor, Ho‘okele

USS Asheville (SSN 758) came from behind to score 16 straight points and then hung on to defeat USS O’Kane (DDG-77), 16-12, on Oct. 14 in an Afloat Division intramural flag football game at Earhart Field, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

Asheville picked up their third win of the season, while the O’Kane, still searching for their first victory, is now 0-2.

“We settled down,” said Asheville quarterback Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Knya Davis about the team’s comeback. “We were stagnant at first, but we settled down and starting playing.”

After falling behind, 6-0, Asheville got the ball back and immediately began to march downfield.

Facing a third and long, Davis looked deep and delivered an arching rainbow down the left side of the field.

The pass appeared to be overthrown, but Asheville receiver Torpedoman’s Mate Fireman Rico Blankholm used his height to his advantage, when he split two defenders and grabbed the ball with both hands for a reception that placed the ball on the O’Kane four-yard line.

“He’s tall and there were short corners,” Davis said. “So I just threw it up to give him a chance and he made a good play.”

A penalty pushed the ball back to the 18-yard line, but on the second down and goal, Davis eluded the O’Kane pass rush, turned the corner and took it to the house for a touch-down.

The team then converted its point after touchdown (PAT) to go out in front at 7-6, which lasted all the way through half-time.

In the second half, Asheville started with the ball on their own 15 and broke O’Kane territory at the 38-yard line.

However, on fourth down, Davis got his pass picked off by Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Adrian Gonzales to stop the drive. It was the second interception of the day for Gonzales.

After the turnover, Asheville’s defense stepped up and forced O’Kane to punt the ball away.

Then, starting at their own 39, Davis came back to lead a 10-play drive that finished with a short pass from Davis to Culinary Specialist (Submarines) 2nd Class Austin Barrett for the team’s second touchdown of the game.

Asheville then added another PAT to go up by a score of 14-6.

As the clock wound down to the two-minute warning, O’Kane started with the ball on their own 15, but after being held without a first down by Asheville’s defense, O’Kane was forced to go for it on fourth down.

The play resulted in a safety after the ball was hiked over the quarterback’s head and into the end zone to give Asheville a 16-6 lead.

O’Kane did manage to add a touchdown late in the game, but it was too little and too late.

The scoring play came on a pass from O’Kane quarterback Gas Turbine Systems Technician (Mechanical) Fireman Stephen Solomon to Gas Turbine Systems Technician (Mechanical) 2nd Class Shane Robinson.

After giving up only 12 points, Davis said that the Asheville defense did a great job of keeping O’Kane’s offense bottled up.

“We pretty much figured out what they (O’Kane) wanted to do,” Davis said. “They wanted to throw the ball short to their playmakers. So we just changed our defense, played short and let them throw deep.”

Davis, who displayed a strong arm and the ability to scramble, said that it took a little while for him to feel comfortable playing quarterback.

As the players get in sync with each other, he said that Asheville would only get better.

“We’re going to try and play good and win out,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll get to the playoffs.”

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Category: Sports