Warriors fight off Tigers in football shootout

Staff Sgt. Michael Williams is all alone waiting to make a catch before turning it up field for a 65-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown.

Story and photo by Randy Dela Cruz

Sports Editor, Ho‘okele

Due to scheduling conflicts, the 735th Air Mobility Squadron (735 AMS) Warriors found themselves on the field for only the fourth time this late in the season, but while they haven’t had too much experience in competition, the team played as if it hadn’t skipped a beat. They edged past the 324th Intelligence Squadron (324 IS) Tigers, 21-20, on Oct. 31 in a Gold Division intramural flag football game at Earhart Field, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

The Tigers had a chance to tie the score, but went for a two-point conversion for the win instead and came up short.

Although the Warriors played in only their fourth game of the season, it was their fourth win in a row against no defeats, while the Tigers fell to 3-4.

“We’re pretty good about getting together for practice,” said Warriors quarterback Tech. Sgt. Marco Knight about maintaining continuity despite playing so little. “It also helps that we’ve got a solid core of guys. I’m on my third season along with about 50 percent of the guys out here.”

While the Tigers got the ball first, the Warriors came up with the game’s first big play on defense. Senior Airman Chad Gordon stepped in front of a pass and picked it off near midfield.

“Gordon’s been doing that all season,” Knight said. “I think he gets two picks a game.”

Seizing the opportunity, Knight drove the Warriors down to the Tigers eight-yard line on five plays, before connecting on a short pass into the end zone to Senior Airman Troy Nolen for a touchdown and 7-0 lead after the point after touch-down (PAT).

Knight used a traditional three-steps-back-and-pass attack. Tigers quarterback Tech. Sgt. Edmond Gray revved up his team’s offense via a ground game that featured the quickness and shiftiness of Gray.

After falling behind, Gray ran three keepers in a row to put the Tigers in the red zone at the Warriors 21.

Later, on first down from the eight, Gray went back to the run and scampered across the goal line for a touchdown and then a 7-7 tie after the PAT.

The game entered halftime tied at 7-7, but starting the second half with the football, Knight took the first snap from the line of scrimmage and threw a bomb down the left sideline and into the arms of Staff Sgt. Michael Williams, who made the catch and ran the rest of the way into the end zone for a touchdown.

“They were playing their corners up and their safety was not expecting the deep ball,” Knight said about his pass to Williams. “We wanted to come out early in the second half and hit them with a quick haymaker.”

The Warriors converted their PAT to go back out in front at 14.7.

Back on offense, the Tigers went back to their ground game starting from their own 15-yard line.

Again, Gray broke down the Warriors defense with his feet, rushing the ball three out of five times for a total of 41 yards and scoring his second touch-down of the game that led to a 14-14 tie after a successful conversion.

Knight marched the team downfield again, moving the ball 65 yards on six plays, with the final throw coming on a 22-yard connection to Senior Airman Marquell Craig for a touchdown and 21-14 advantage after the PAT.

However, Gray wasn’t ready to give up the game just yet.

Running a more balanced attack, Gray ran an eight-yard keeper down to the Warriors 10-yard line, before tossing a pass to Airman 1st Class Christopher Elliott for a touchdown to pull to within a single point at 21-20.

Instead of going for the tie, the Tigers went for a two-point conversion for the win, but the ball was batted away by Craig in the end zone to preserve the lead and the win.

The victory by the Warriors kept the team as the only undefeated squad remaining in the division, but Knight said that the team has a long way to go.

The Warriors played two games on Halloween and will play another doubleheader on Nov. 7.

“We’re two weeks back,” Knight said. “So now we’re on a makeup.”

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Category: Sports