NHCH comes back to win in OT over Geckos

NHCH quarterback Lt. Cmdr. Josh Miller evades a tackle before running into the end for a touchdown.

Story and photo by Randy Dela Cruz

Sports Editor, Ho‘okele

A tight defense led by Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Chris Zunker and a never-say-die offense anchored by quarterback Lt. Cmdr. Josh Miller raised Naval Health Clinic Hawaii to a 19-13 overtime win over the 17th Operational Weather Squadron (17 OWS) Geckos on Oct. 3 in a Gold Division intramural flag football game at Earhart Field, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

An interception by Zunker led to the team’s first touch-down, a short sneak by Miller in the second half, and later, the defensive standout completed the comeback by collecting two sacks and another tackle for a loss on the Geckos final drive in overtime to preserve the win.

The game marked the team’s second come-from-behind victory in consecutive weeks to put NHCH back in running for the divisional title.

“It’s our dynamic,” Zunker said about the back-to-back comebacks. “When we get down, we support each other.

We go positive the whole way, we encourage each other, we talk and that’s really what gets the job done.”

Zunker’s amazing defensive stand came after NHCH scored on their first possession in overtime to take a 19-13 lead.

Starting at the 10-yard line, the Geckos tried to respond to keep the OT period going, but no one anticipated Zunker’s will and determination to seal the deal.

On first down, Zunker watched as Geckos quarterback Lt. Cam Petit ran a bootleg around the right side of the field, before pouncing on the signal caller for a loss.

Then on the next play, Zunker stepped up through the pocket and sacked Petit to place the ball on the 15-yard line.

On third down, NHCH got called for pass interference on a toss to the end zone that was intended for Aerographer’s Mate 1st Class Rodney Rumph, forcing a replay of the down at the three-yard line.

Instead of breaking, Zunker and the NHCH defense regrouped, as Zunker sacked Petit one more time to place the ball on the six-yard line.

A desperation pass into traffic in the end zone on fourth down was batted away to end the game.

“We just went one rusher,” Zunker said. “They really hadn’t seen me rush all game, so we figured it was a good change-up. Their (the Geckos) line just collapsed every time, so I went hard, we pulled back and covered the zone and he (Petit) had nowhere to throw.”

Earlier, the Geckos took the first lead of the game on a long toss from Petit to Rumph that went for 36 yards and a 6-0 advantage that stood through halftime.

However, on the Geckos first offensive set after intermission, Zunker made his presence known for the first time on an interception and return to set up NHCH on the Geckos’ one-yard line.

“I was watching the quarterback, watching his movements,” Zunker said. “I saw he was coming my side. Luckily, he went short and I went for it and got the interception.”

On the first play on offense, Miller scored on a short plunge for six and then put NHCH ahead by rushing into the end zone to complete the point after touchdown.

Petit followed up on the NHCH score by leading a drive from his own 21 and into the end zone on five plays to retake the lead at 13-7.

With time running out, it appeared that the Geckos were well on their way to the win, but Miller marched onto the field with 42 seconds remaining in the game and directed a 39-yard drive to pay dirt on just four plays.

The team’s game-tying touch-down was scored on a short three-yard pass from Miller to Hospital Corpsman Dennis Brown with only 10 seconds on the clock.

Later, in overtime, Miller went to the end zone of the first play from the 10 and found Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Dylan Fralick for the game winner.

“We just played full speed the entire game. We didn’t give up,” Miller said. “We’re starting to see some good things on offense, but our defense is solid.

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Category: Sports