Port Royal bounces back from loss to beat Asheville

Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Dre Clark hauls in a pass over his shoulder before taking it all the way to the end zone for a touchdown.

Story and photo by Randy Dela Cruz

Sports Editor, Ho‘okele

In less than 24 hours, USS Port Royal (CG 73) bounced back from a heartbreaking defeat to a mercy-rule 26-6 victory over USS Asheville (SSN 758) on Oct. 22 in an Afloat Division intramural flag football matchup at Earhart Field, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

The loss on Oct. 21 to USS O’Kane (DDG-77) was a tough pill to swallow for Port Royal. The defeat snapped a four-game-winning streak and dropped the team’s record to 4-2.

In beating Asheville on the next day, Port Royal not only got back on course, but also kept the team in the running for division’s top spot, which is now occupied by USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53).

“The biggest thing to realize is that football is football and every game is going to be different,” said Port Royal head coach Len Nuanez about the team’s turnaround. “You just come out and play the best game you can. That’s it and that’s what the guys did.”

Against Asheville, Port Royal started off aggressive and used that mindset to get a quick turnover on an interception by Hull Maintenance Technician Josh Ross.

Then, starting with the ball at the Asheville 35, quarterback Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Dalton Runneberg made a couple of clutch fourth-down plays to keep the drive alive, before giving Port Royal their first touchdown of the game on a 14-yard keeper to the house for a 6-0 lead.

Then the Port Royal defense stepped up again to force another turnover by Asheville, when Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 2nd Class Ryan Schuman snatched up the team’s second pick of the game.

After getting the ball back, Runneberg wasted little time and hoisted a bomb over the top and into the arms of Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Dre Clark for a 49-yard catch-and-run to the end zone and a 12-0 lead.

Next, Asheville’s offense tried to get things going on their third possession of the game, but the Port Royal defense wasn’t letting up on its attack.

A bad snap pushed Asheville back from their own 15 to the three, and on the next play, Damage Controlman Fireman Royce Brunner blitzed through the line and sacked the Asheville quarterback in the end zone for a safety and 14-0 advantage.

Up by two scores, Port Royal wasn’t quite done with their onslaught in the first half.

Following the safety, Port Royal received the kick and began one more drive before intermission.

From his own 28, Runneberg moved the team down to the Asheville one-yard line on seven plays, before flicking a short shuffle pass to Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class Michael Fultz for a touchdown and 20-0 lead going into the break.

In the second half, Asheville finally broke through the Port Royal defense to score a touchdown, but with less than two minutes on the clock, Runneberg connected with Damage Controlman 2nd Class Jacob Min for a 40-yard bomb to the end zone for the final score.

Nuanez, who started his coaching duties in the team’s third game of the season, has taken a team that was in the middle of the pack to become one of the division’s top contenders.

While getting more reps during practice has played a huge role in turning the team’s fortunes around, Nuanez said that getting the players to believe in themselves has been the key to Port Royal’s recent success.

“I had to open their eyes and let them know that they have the talent,” he said.

“I definitely let them know that I believe in them and got them to believe in themselves.”

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • RSS

Category: Sports