Medical Group tries to keep playoffs alive

Quarterback Staff Sgt. Larry Gauze, from the 15th MDG, scrambles away for a good gain. Gauze threw for one touchdown and ran for another in a 12-6 win over NHCH.

Story and photo by Randy Dela Cruz

Sports Editor, Ho‘okele

Needing a win for even the slightest chance of getting into the postseason, the 15th Medical Group (15th MDG) got clutch performances from quarterback Staff Sgt. Larry Gauze and defensive back Senior Airman Zack Johnson to sneak past Naval Health Clinic Hawaii (NHCH), 12-6, Nov. 13 in an intramural Red Division flag football game at Earhart Field, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

The win gave the 15th MDG a record of 4-4 and, with one week left to play, kept the team’s playoff hopes alive while NHCH fell to 2-4.

Against NHCH, the 15th MDG never trailed during the entire game after going out in front on the team’s first drive of the game.

Gauze engineered a drive that moved the ball deep into NHCH territory. With the ball resting inside the 10-yard line, Gauze rolled to his right, spotted Airman 1st Class Javonte Bryant all alone in the back of the end zone and delivered a perfect strike while on the run to take a 6-0 lead.

“I just trust in his (Bryant’s) hands and I made sure I threw it behind him so he could get to the ball because there was two defenders there as well,” Gauze said. “I told my outside guy to run a slant and Bryant to do an out so I could roll with him too. If it was there, it was going to be a touchdown, if not, it was going to be an incomplete pass.”

Immediately after the score, the 15th MDG defense went to work. On the NHCH first play of the game, quarterback Hospital Corpsman Daelen Johnsen threw a pass picked off by Johnson at the NHCH 19.

Later in the second half, Johnson snatched his second pick of the game to help keep NHCH off the scoreboard.

“At first, I didn’t know what to expect of Zack because I don’t work with him,” Gauze stated. “But he’s come out and made some really good plays for us all season. Yeah, Zack’s been playing out of his mind in the last couple of games.”

While Johnson and the entire defensive backfield were locking down the NHCH attack, Gauze said that a lot of that success was aided by the work that the team was doing in the trenches.

As they have tried to do all season, the 15th MDG pass rush was outstanding against NHCH and the constant pressure on Johnsen was a strong component of the team’s success on defense.

“At the beginning of the season, I told my team, ‘Hey, our defense is going to be as good as our rushers,'” Gauze admitted. “If we don’t have a good rush, our defense is going to be all over the place.”

With the team’s defense shutting down the NHCH attack, the 15th MDG’s small six-point advantage started to look very big as the clock wound down.

However, late in the game, Gauze put the game away for good when on first down at the 38, he took the snap in the backfield and ran the ball 42 yards for a touchdown that made it 12-0.

“We’ve been doing that all season,” Gauze said. “That’s one thing our coach has been trying to incorporate closer to the end zone, if we decide to run the clock down.”

NHCH finally responded with 1:41 remaining in the game, when Johnsen went over the top and hit Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Carlton Dyke with a 60-yard catch and run for the team’s only touchdown of the game.

While even Gauze admitted that the 15th MDG is going to need a lot of help if it hopes to get into the playoffs, the QB said if they get there, they would be ready.

“If we can get in, then I think we can make a lot of noise,” Gauze said. “I think we’ll make a run for the championship for sure.”

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Category: Sports