By Jamal WalkerDecember 9, 2009
RED CLOUD GARRISON - The Warrior Country Noncommissioned officers flag football team came up short against the Officer's team 14-26 in the first ever Turkey Bowl, NCO's vs. Officers game Nov. 25, on the USAG-RC soccer field.
Winning the coin toss and electing to receive the ball in the second half, the NCO's, wearing "Army Green," jerseys, took the field with a much larger bench than the Officers who were considered the underdogs by the Soldiers filling the bleachers to watch the game, a view also shared by the loud NCO team and even a few members of the Officers team.
"I told my team before, throughout, and during the game, the NCO's can have 200 guys on their team, but in the end, only eight can go on the field." said Lt. Col. Michael Calvin, quarterback. "And, we are going to match our best eight against theirs and see what happens."
The NCO's were moving the ball with crafty running plays yet on the third play of the possession Lt. Col. Frank Martin, cornerback, intercepted the ball from the NCO's on their first intended pass.
Capitalizing on the NCO's first mistake, Calvin threw a pass intended to Lt. Col. James Burns, center, which was bobbled and tipped by multiple players before landing in the hands of Maj. Robert Stokes, wide receiver, for the first touchdown of the game. The Officers converted on the next play for the extra point making the game 7-0.
The NCO's took the field again, but Martin took the ball away from them on an option play as the quarterback was pitching the ball to the running back, Martin took the ball in mid-pitch causing another turnover for the NCO's team.
At the end of the first half, Calvin and the Officers team scored two additional times while holding the NCO's scoreless at 20-0.
"We were mostly concentrating on our offense," Calvin said. "We came together a couple of days before the game and we just looked at using operational strategy by moving the ball up the field with our short game and then we would go long."
The Warrior Country NCO's came out pumped-up and ready to play a more aggressive game than what their opponents were used to seeing.
"It was a pretty tense atmosphere and it felt really good being out there with all of the sergeant majors and Army Noncommissioned Officers," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Billy Harris, quarterback.
Harris was subbed into the game for a short amount of plays in the first half giving Dunbar a chance to work with the offense, but in the second half of the game the NCO's decided Harris should try to change up the game play for the NCO team.
"I came into the game as quarterback to give the offense a different look from what our opponents were used to seeing which was the power running short pass game and to spread the ball out," Harris said. "I saw an opening on the left, and I gave it a shot. It was great we were able to score because the momentum of the game just changed tremendously to our side."
After throwing a touchdown and another pass for the two point conversion by Harris, the NCO's were showing signs of a comeback with the score 20-8. Calvin and the Officer team threw a late interception, which resulted in Dunbar scoring but was unable to convert for two additional points leaving the score to 20-14.
Unable to retrieve the ball, the NCO team still held their ground with a strong defensive performance by forcing the Officers to punt the ball three plays following the unsuccessful onside kick.
Looking desperate, the NCOs heaved the ball deep every play, forcing a tough pass in their attempts to score, but Burns came down with an interception with seconds left and scored the game ending touchdown leaving the final score 26-14.
"This game was fun and a great way to build camaraderie," Calvin said. "But in the end, this was a competition, and this is for bragging rights, and we are going to place this trophy at headquarters so NCOs never forget we beat them in the first ever Turkey Bowl."