PACOM/JIOC ends season with perfect record

Staff Sgt. Martin Dietrich, quarterback for PACOM/JIOC, tries to stretch the ball over the goal line.

Story and photo by Randy Dela Cruz

Sports Editor, Ho‘okele

Whenever two of the best teams in a division square off, it’s always a good night to be at the ballpark. And when it just so happens that the top two battle in the final game of the regular season, you know that it’s going to be special.

That’s exactly what happened when Red Division leader Pacific Command/Joint Intelligence Operation Center (PACOM/JIOC) tangled against No. 2 Navy Information Operations Command (NIOC) Hawaii Anchors in the season’s finale Nov. 20 at Ear-hart Field, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

While both teams have already qualified for the post-season that is scheduled for Dec. 1-2, there was still a lot at stake with PACOM/JIOC trying to finish off the regular season with a perfect record at 9-0 and NIOC trying to hold on to the No. 2 seed going into the playoffs.

In one of the toughest games of the year, PACOM/JIOC got out to a two-score lead and then held on to defeat the Anchors by a score of 13-6.

Quarterback Staff Sgt. Martin Dietrich fueled the attack on offense by throwing for two touchdowns, while the PACOM/ JIOC defense stifled a potent NIOC attack in holding the Anchors scoreless until the final two minutes of the game. Defensive back Tech. Sgt. Devin Rolley recorded an interception for PACOM/JIOC.

“It was definitely a difficult game,” Dietrich admitted. “It was great to see this to get us amped and into that mindset that this is what we’re going to see going forward.”

In the team’s first drive of the game, Dietrich needed only four plays to move the ball from his own 20 and into the NIOC red zone at the 19.

While the drive stalled at the 1-yard line, Dietrich said that it was a great way to start the game and gave the team a lot of confidence moving on.

“We knew that it was going to be a big game and being able to move the ball on the first drive was crucial because they (Anchors) showed up ready to play,” he acknowledged. “Being able to stick it to them on the first drive, even though we didn’t get into the end zone, it was what we needed to get this game started.”

NIOC picked up a couple of first downs on its first drive, but was forced to hand the ball over on downs and punted the ball back to PACOM/JIOC, which took possession at their own 10.

With time running down in the first half, Dietrich converted on a clutch fourth-and-two to keep the chains moving. Then with only seconds remaining before half-time, Dietrich connected with Master Sgt. Darryl Hill for a touchdown leading to a 7-0 lead at halftime.

“That was a huge difference going up at halftime as opposed to going in tied at 0-0,” he said. “That’s exactly what we needed. We did a great job managing the clock and gave them almost no time left.”

In the second half, NIOC started with a quick four-and-out, and punted the ball back to PACOM/JIOC in good field position at midfield.

On the first play from scrimmage, Dietrich scrambled out of the pocket and threw a deep ball over the defense and into the arms of Senior Airman Antonio Gause, who made an over-the-shoulder catch and ran into the end zone for a 13-0 lead.

NIOC managed to score late in the half on a short plunge by Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) 1st Class Stephen Leidner, but it was just too little, too late.

PACOM/JIOC team captain Mike Todd, a retired veteran and current Department of Defense civilian, said in previous weeks that he considered forfeiting the game against NIOC because win or lose, it wouldn’t change the team’s seeding going into the playoffs.

However, a team decision overruled Todd and in the end, has set up PACOM/JIOC to not only challenge for the championship, but to do it in style with an undefeated record.

“We stuck together and we played as a team,” he said. “It seems as if we’re the No. 1 seed in playoffs and that should work in our favor.”

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Category: Sports