Short-handed Medical Group still earns victory

Quarterback Lt. Levi Blackwell stretches out for the final plunge into the end zone.

Quarterback Lt. Levi Blackwell stretches out for the final plunge into the end zone.

Story and photo by Randy Dela Cruz

Sports Editor, Ho‘okele

It’s not often that a shorthanded team overcomes the odds to gain a victory, but in their final game of the regular season, the 15th Medical Group (15 MDG) managed to pull out an unlikely win over the Naval Health Clinic Hawaii (NHCH) Goblins, 26-21, on Nov. 22 in a Gold Division showdown at Ward Field, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

The 15 MDG, which entered the matchup in a tie for fourth place, finished off their regular season with a record of 8-3, while the Goblins lost their eighth game against three wins.

“We just tried to spread the ball and take it slow,” said 15 MDG quarterback Lt. Levi Blackwell about the improbable victory. “We used as much clock as we had, so we could preserve our energy on offense and defense, and tried to make smart plays with no turnovers.”

While both teams started the game with only six players, the Goblins got their seventh player shortly after the opening series, but the 15 MDG wasn’t as lucky and had to play the entire game with only six players.

The shortage produced instant ramifications for the MDG, when on the team’s second play from scrimmage, Blackwell had his toss picked off by Seaman Dennis Brown at the Goblins own 38.

Goblins quarterback Petty Officer 2nd Class Cody Adkins completed his first pass for a four-yard gain.

Then after a running play for no gain, Adkins took control of the drive by sweeping past the defense en route to a 38-yard scamper to pay dirt and an early 7-0 lead after converting their point-after-touchdown (PAT).

With the ball back in their possession, the 15 MDG embarked upon their second series and this time the team was determined to get off to a better start.

Blackwell settled down from his own 15-yard line and used his legs to pick up nine yards and a first down at the 24.

Five plays later, Blackwell, from the Goblins 12, passed to Staff Sgt. Adrian Fuentes inside the end zone for a touch-down.

The team tied the score at 7-7 by making good on their PAT.

Back on defense, Blackwell came up with a huge play in the secondary, when he stepped in front of an Adkins pass and picked it off to set up first down at the MDG 10-yard line.

Following the interception, Blackwell led a 55-yard drive to the Goblins end zone on only seven plays.

During the drive, Blackwell led a balanced offense by going three-for-three on passes and running the ball three times, with Blackwell taking it into the end zone by himself on a 30-yard run for a 13-7 lead.

Although the lead stayed that way through halftime, the Goblins quickly made it a game again, when they took the first series after intermission on a drive to the house.

Adkins directed the scoring drive, needing only eight plays.

After the touchdown, the Goblins completed a pass into the end zone for a two-point conversion and a 15-13 lead.

However, the lead didn’t last long, as Blackwell delivered a long ball on first down and hit Staff Sgt. Edgar Corana in stride for six and a 19-15 advantage.

“We just looked for it,” said Blackwell about his clutch pass. “We just spread the ball out and used as much players as we had because they had more players.”

The final blow came when the six-man defense held the Goblins to only four downs to force NHCH to hand over the ball deep in their own territory at the 18.

“That was huge,” Blackwell said. “We knew he (Adkins) was running, so we said man up and stayed close to the line.”

Blackwell finished off the drive by picking up the final three yards on a rush into the end zone that clinched the game.

The Goblins did manage one last score on a pass from Adkins to Seaman Bradley Williams as time ran out.

As great as it was to win with only six plays, Blackwell said that he wouldn’t want to attempt that in the playoffs.

“We’ll get all the players back,” Blackwell said. “We had a couple of people that had to work, but we should be full strength for the playoffs.”

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Category: Sports