Defense leads defending champs NIOC to win

Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 2nd Class Altie Holcome leaps to pick off a pass.

Story and photo by Randy Dela Cruz

Sports Editor, Ho‘okele

The defending Joint Base intramural flag football squad Navy Information Operations Command (NIOC) Hawaii Anchors offense struggled in the first game of the season, but the defense looked to be in midseason form. The bend-but-don’t-break unit kept the 613th Air and Space Operation Center out of the end zone to lead the Anchors to a 12-0 win on Sept. 12 in a Gold Division game at Earhart Field, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

The Anchors big “D” forced three turnovers via picks, while stopping the 613 AOC two times in the red zone to preserve the victory.

“Coming out here, we try to make sure we set the tone every game,” said Anchors defensive coordinator Cryptologic Technician (Networks) 2nd Class Kian Davis. “The last game (of 2016) we performed pretty well. It was almost a 100 percent game and we’re trying to reproduce that with different personnel. It’s the same scheme, but we’re trying to play with the same intensity.”

It’s a good thing that the defense was at its near best because the offense struggled early in the game and didn’t get on the board in the entire first half.

After losing the ball on downs on their first offensive set, the Anchors immediately found their backs against the wall. The 613 AOC, on their first play from scrimmage, moved the chains 38 yards on a long strike from quarterback Master Sgt. Jason Levasseur to Senior Airman Mike Volkmeier that placed the ball on the NIOC 21-yard line.

With only a short distance to pay dirt, the 613 AOC ran into a brick wall as the Anchors pushed their opponent back to the 33, before Ensign Obi Uzona came up with the team’s first interception to hand the ball back to NIOC.

In the Anchors second set from scrimmage, things didn’t go much better than the first time. Quarterback Cryptologic Technician (Maintenance) 1st Class Jermaine Carmenia misfired on back-to-back passes, before Senior Airman Jarvail Little stopped the drive at midfield with an interception at the 30-yard line.

Despite the momentum shift, the 613 AOC couldn’t generate anything against the Anchors defense and was forced to give the ball up after four downs.

NIOC got one last chance on offense just before halftime, but with only 34 seconds remaining in the half, the Anchors got to the 613 AOC 20-yard line before time ran out.

“We just came out lackadaisical,” Carmenia said, who also serves as the team’s offensive coordinator. “We thought that we could just beat them with our talent, but didn’t play them. I don’t think they (the AOC defense) affected us at all. It was just not executing.”

Execution wasn’t a problem for the team’s defense and in the second half, as the unit played even tighter.

On the first drive after half-time, the 613 AOC moved the ball into the Anchors territory at the 28, but once again the team’s defense came up with a turnover to stop the drive.

This time, it was Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 2nd Class Altie Holcome who picked off a pass at the NIOC 17.

After the steal, the Anchors offense finally got things rolling, as Carmenia led the team on an eight-play drive to the end zone that covered 63 yards.

The final play of the drive came on a 22-yard pass to the end zone that was caught by Cryptologic Technician (Maintenance) Seaman Benjamin Kohut for a 6-0 lead.

The 613 AOC tried to answer the call and almost succeeded as Levasseur drove the team into the NIOC 20-yard line.

With second down and the ball on the 18, Levasseur went for it all with a toss to the end zone, but instead of connecting, his ball was picked off by Cryptologic Technician (Collection) 2nd Class Ramon Cruz.

NIOC then secured the win with a 70-yard drive that ended on a touchdown pass from Carmenia to team captain Cryptologic Technician (Networks) 2nd Class John Posey.

“If we come out and don’t beat ourselves, nobody can beat us,” Posey said. “If we show up on our best day, nobody can beat us. That’s how I feel. However, if we make mistakes, can’t come out ready to perform like we did today, it’s anybody’s game.”

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Category: Sports