John Paul Jones defense too much for Port Royal

Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Shayne Stevenson is about to make a diving catch of a pass thrown by quarterback Operations Specialist 2nd Class Enrico Pool.

Story and photo by Randy Dela Cruz

Sports Editor, Ho‘okele

If defenses win championships, then USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) may well be on their way to title contention after holding USS Port Royal (CG 73) without a touchdown in a 20-2 victory on Sept. 16 in an opening season Afloat Division intramural flag football game at Ward Field, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

In shutting down Port Royal’s attack, the John Paul Jones defense came up with big stop at their own two-yard line and got two interceptions, with the final steal taken to the house by Lt. Alex Bradley for a pick six.

“I say that our defense got us the win today,” said John Paul Jones quarterback Operations Specialist 2nd Class Enrico Pool. “We got the pick six and got the pick on the first possession. Without the defense, we wouldn’t have got that win.”

Port Royal received the ball first, but on the fifth play of the drive, the team was victimized by the John Paul Jones secondary. Lt. Glenn Roberts stepped in front of a pass and picked it off to take over possession.

After John Paul Jones struggled on offense on their first two times with the ball, the defense bailed out the team with a huge goal-line stop late in the first half.

Port Royal moved the ball from their own 21 all the way down to the John Paul Jones’ two-yard line on only six plays.

However, on third down with the ball resting just outside of the end zone, Port Royal was stopped without a gain on the next two plays and was forced to hand over the football.

Seizing the opportunity, Pool broke huddle deep in John Paul Jones territory and finally solved the Port Royal defense with the help of his talented receiving corps.

Pool completed his first pass of the series to Culinary Specialist 1st Class Karel Carter, who took the ball out to the 17.

Pool rushed for six yards on the next play to pick up a first down and then broke Port Royal territory on a pass to Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Shayne Stevenson for a 26-yard gain.

On the play, Stevenson tipped the ball up in the air and then made a spectacular catch as he was falling to the turf.

Two plays later, Pool found Sonar Technician (Surface) 2nd Class Kalvin Popkes all alone in the right corner of the end zone for a 7-0 lead after converting the point after touchdown (PAT).

“From my first season last year, Ice Man (Popkes) was one of my go-to guys,” Pool said. “I know if I throw to him, I’ve got a lot of faith in him catching it.”

Coming back after intermission, John Paul Jones stumbled a bit when the ball was hiked over Pool’s head and landed in the end zone for a safety on their first possession.

Once again, the team’s defense righted the ship by forcing Port Royal to punt after only five downs.

From his own 15, Pool got hot and led John Paul Jones on a seven-play drive to the end zone for a 14-2 advantage after the PAT.

During the drive, Pool tossed five completions in a row, with the final connection hitting Stevenson, who broke free in the back of the end zone.

“When I rolled to the right, I saw my center open, but I didn’t think he could get to the end zone,” Pool said. “I saw Shayne trailing the defender, so I said if I keep going, he’s going to be open.”

Fittingly, the John Paul Jones defense ended all thoughts of a Port Royal comeback, when Bradley picked off a pass at the Port Royal 27 and took it all the way to house for the final score.

While the team’s defense stole the show in the win, Pool said that it’s only going to be a matter of time for the offense to equal the performance.

When that happens, Pool said other teams in the Afloat Division better look out.

“We actually had only one practice,” Pool said. “The more we practice, the more in tune we get with each other. The offense is going to come along where the defense is. We’re looking for the championship. That’s all we want to do.”

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Category: Sports