By Matt Decker (Leonard Wood)December 17, 2015
The Army team built on a 10-point first-half lead with two more touchdowns in the second half to defeat a combined Navy/U.S. Marine Corps team, 24-8, Saturday during Fort Leonard Wood's annual Army vs. Navy flag-football game.
"We came out here to have fun and play ball," said Army quarterback Horace Gibson, who had three touchdown passes.
It was the 12th consecutive win for the post's Army team, which has never lost to the Navy in the history of the flag-football series.
The game followed the running of the second annual All-Service 4-by-400 Relay and the annual Army-Navy 5k earlier that day.
"It feels awesome to get out here and play the game that we love," said wide receiver Byron Causey, who completed a 78-yard touchdown pass to extend the Army lead early in the second half.
It was a return trip to the annual game for Army running back Valintino Sanchez, who scored the final touchdown for the black-and-gold team. "I was out here last year, so to get to come out and do it again was a privilege," Sanchez said. "It's also to honor my brothers who are in the Navy, so it's kind of a personal thing for me to play this game."
The Navy team won the coin toss and elected to kick.
The Army team scored on its first series of the game after earning first downs on a 25-yard pass from Gibson to Sanchez and a 15-yard pass to Antwan Davis. After the drive stalled on the 5-yard line, Michael Laughlin kicked a field goal for a 3-0 lead.
The Navy team took over on its own 30-yard line and advanced seven yards, but back-to-back sacks by Army defensive linemen Zach Sylvia and Richard Judd forced the Navy to punt on fourth down.
The Navy defense returned the favor on the next series, sacking Gibson on consecutive plays to force the Army team to punt from its own 18-yard line.
The Army defense was able to disrupt the Navy team's passing game, forcing a turnover on downs. Taking over at their own 25-yard line, Gibson completed a 15-yard pass to Joel Rodriguez at midfield for a first down. A 19-yard run by Davis put the ball at the 21-yard line, where the drive stalled until, on fourth down, Gibson threw a pass to Christopher Davis in the end zone for the Army team's first touchdown of the game.
Trailing by 10 points as the second half got underway, Navy quarterback Randy Bacon marched his team down the field on the next series, including a 26-yard run, a 25-yard pass to Nigel Moffett and 10-yard run by Chris Bedgood that put the ball on the 15-yard line. Bacon ran the ball to the 2-yard line, but followed with two incomplete passes to the end zone, and the Army defense tackled Bedgood at the line of scrimmage on a fourth-and-goal rushing attempt.
Taking over at their own 2-yard line, Gibson threw a 38-yard pass to Causey, who caught it at midfield and then scampered 40 yards to the end zone to give the Army team a 17-0 lead after Laughlin's successful extra-point kick.
"I had been getting looks all game. I knew I had to catch the ball," Causey said.
The Navy got its best field position of the game on the following kickoff, with Raquise Bacon returning the ball 50 yards to the Army's 20-yard line. Raquise Bacon rushed to the 15-yard line on the next play. A pass to Steven Craik put the ball on the 2-yard line, and a penalty against the Army defense gave the Navy team a first down at the 1-yard line. From there, Randy Bacon threw a short touchdown pass to Dylan Walker for six points, then dashed to the left corner of the end zone on the two-point conversion to give the Navy eight points on the score board.
A 20-yard kick-off return by Causey let the Army team start its next series from midfield. Gibson followed short passes to Antwan Davis and Christopher Davis with a quarterback-keeper play that put the ball on the Navy's 25-yard line. On third down, the Army completed what Gibson described as their "hook-and-ladder play," with Gibson completing a short pass to Christopher Davis, who immediately tossed the ball in a high arc to the right to Sanchez, who ran the final 20 yards for a touchdown.
While it appeared to the casual observer that Davis had bobbled the ball, "it was actually a set play from the quarterback," Sanchez said later. "It got us the touchdown -- it's all the coach that set that up, not me."
With less than a minute on the clock, the Navy drove to the Army's 39-yard line. But on a third-down play, Army linebacker John Flores intercepted a Navy pass, and the Army team ran out the clock for the win.
Prior to the game, relay teams representing the Army, Navy, Air Force and U.S. Marine Corps participated in the second annual 4-by-400 relay race.
The Marine Corps team of Baron Barber, Michael Tillman, Travis Holmes and Dayshawn Franklin won the race with a time of 3 minutes, 43 seconds, a new post record that beat last year's inaugural time by a full nine seconds.
The Army team placed second, with a time of 3:54.45, followed by the Air Force in third (4:01) and the Navy in fourth (4:03).
Earlier in the day, more than 100 runners took part in the final "5k for Fun" of 2015, this time with an Army/Navy theme, at Davidson Fitness Center.
Cameron Regur was the first-place finisher overall, completing the course in 21:03.
"This is the second time I've run that course -- I like it," Regur said.
Paula Taylor was the first female runner across the finish line, completing the 5k in 23:26.
As in previous races, the top three canines to complete the race earned ribbons. Emma, a 3-year-old Labrador retriever belonging to Scott Preston, took home the blue ribbon.
Myla, a German shepherd owned by James Scott, earned her fourth red ribbon of the 5k series.
The third-place white ribbon was shared by 2-year-old Jax, a Labrador/border collie mix, and Mave, a Malinois, also 2; both belong to Jacqueline Chen.
The 5k was followed by the Kid's Half Miler, won by Christian Barbeiro, age 11.
Col. Andy Herbst, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood commander and creator of the "5k for Fun" series, thanked everyone who participated.
"First, I want to thank you guys," Herbst told the crowd. "It seems like there has been a core group of people who come out to every 5k, and they bring people with them."
Herbst also urged those in attendance to take advantage of other Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation fitness programs coming up in the new year, including the RIPPED workout on Jan. 9, and the next 5k event, the annual Shamrock Shuffle, March 12. The "5k for Fun" series is scheduled to resume April 9 and will be held monthly through the remainder of the year.