Spectacular comeback

Petty Officer 3rd Class Travis Kennedy makes a leaping grab for his second touchdown of the game.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Travis Kennedy makes a leaping grab for his second touchdown of the game.

Story and photo by Randy Dela Cruz

Sports Editor, Ho‘okele

Only seconds hung in the balance, but on their final play of the game, the Naval Health Clinic Hawaii (NHCH) WDIIYM shocked the 324th Intelligence Squadron Tigers by scoring a touchdown and completing the go-ahead two-point conversion. They stole a 27-26 win in a battle of Blue Division intramural foes on Nov. 28 at Ward Field, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

Down by a score of 26-19 with less than two minutes remaining in the game, NHCH got one final opportunity to get the win and keep their playoffs hopes alive.

Things looked bleak, as NHCH got the ball at their own 15 and quickly dug themselves in a hole, as quarterback Petty Officer 1st Class Will Frey misfired on his first two passes from scrimmage.

On the next play, Frey picked up the first down at the 21 to gain a fresh set of downs.

Then, after another incomplete pass, on second down Frey rolled out of the pocket and hit Petty Officer 3rd Class Travis Kennedy down the middle of the field inside Tigers territory.

With two defenders to beat, Kennedy turned on the afterburners, sped past the secondary and was gone for a 49-yard catch-and-run to the end zone to pull the team to within a single point with 25 seconds on the clock.

Instead of going for the tie with a single-point conversion, NHCH called a gutsy play by going for the game-winning two-point conversion.

Once again, Kennedy was the man on the spot, as he found space in the end zone and caught a pass from Frey for the game winner.

“I was supposed to go deeper and then the quarterback threw it a little bit short because there was a safety in front of me,” Kennedy said about his last minute touchdown. “I caught it and then I had time to look around and I knew it was going to be the last play that I had a chance to get.”

The final touchdown was Kennedy’s third TD of the game and he was definitely the driving force behind the nail-biting comeback.

Earlier, Kennedy’s first touchdown came on the team’s first drive of the game. Frey put together a nice drive by moving the team from their own 15 to the Tigers’ 14-yard line on seven plays.

With first-and-goal deep in Tigers territory, Frey threw a quick out to Kennedy on the left side of the field.

Kennedy made the grab, broke to the outside and then quickly shifted field to the inside, before breaking the goal line for six points.

The team converted its point-after-touchdown to take the first lead at 7-0.

On the 324’s first series of the game, the team unleashed a potent weapon in the running ability of quarterback Tech. Sgt. Edmond Gray.

After picking up a first down on their own 30, Gray provided a highlight to behold. He scrambled out of traffic and sped 50 yards for a touchdown to cut the lead down to one at 7-6.

However, Frey proved to be just as effective, as he marched the team 65 yards and nailed a clutch fourth-down pass to the end zone. He found Petty Officer 2nd Class Christopher Ferrell for six more points and a 13-6 lead.

After the teams traded the ball on downs, Gray was back at it again and had the ball resting on NHCH’s two-yard line on only three plays.

On the next play, Gray pitched an option to Senior Airman Austin Debban for the final two yards for a touchdown.

The team went for a two-point conversion and took its first lead of the game at 14-13.

After halftime, Gray showed that the first half wasn’t a fluke as he scrambled for another huge 41-yard gain that put the ball on the NHCH eight.

Gray then fired a strike to Debban to extend their lead to seven at 20-13.

Playing from behind proved to be no problem for NHCH, as Frey immediately staged another drive deep into the Tigers territory.

Then facing a fourth-and-goal from the 18, Frey lobbed a pass to the back of the end zone. Kennedy made a leaping one-handed catch and kept his feet inbounds for a touch-down to narrow the margin down to one at 20-19.

Gray responded by running for a touchdown from eight yards out to take a seemingly insurmountable lead with the clock showing less than two minutes to play.

However, NHCH had other ideas, as Kennedy scored his third touch-down of the game to lead the comeback.

The win seemed to have locked up the sixth and final postseason berth for NHCH, but the playoffs won’t be easy, as the team may lose up to three of their top players.

Both Ferrell and Kennedy are pcsing (permanent change of station) and Lt. Tyler Fleming may be lost due to an injury he sustained while getting an interception for NHCH in the first half.

“We’re going to be missing some guys,” said Kennedy, who still believes that NHCH can pull out a few surprises in the playoffs. “We love playing the game, so just have fun out there. You play your best when you’re having fun.”

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Category: Sports