HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD, Ga. - On the eve of their 275th birthday, Marines stationed at Hunter Army Airfield celebrated a day early - by defeating the Fort Stewart champions from MEDDAC in the 3rd Infantry Division intramural flag football championship, 27-20, Nov. 8.
The Stewart champions scored on the first series of the game, with a 17-yard touchdown reception in double coverage by Evan Lund capping off the series. Quarterback Christian Nelson connected with Joe Weidman for the extra point, and MEDDAC took the 7-0 lead.
The Marines answered on their second possession of the game. After a sack and loss of 4 yards, the Marines stood at their own 36. Quarterback Michael Marvin scrambled back for a pass, but no receivers were open. After a pump fake, he found an open lane and cruised 44 yards to the end zone for the score, and connected with Jeffrey Radcliff on the extra point to tie the game.
"Our plan was to stick to the same game plan we had all year - pass first, run second," Marvin said after the game. "But it turned out to be the exact opposite - I found my legs tonight."
In keeping with the trend of the game, MEDDAC scored on the next possession. On second and four, Nelson connected with Lund for an 18-yard completion that brought them to the 26. A four yard gain on the ground and a 10-yard unnecessary roughness call on the offense brought them to first-and-goal with 15 yards to go. A completion to Dan Maselli brought them to the 10. A loss of 1 and a 5 yard penalty brought them to the 6, and MEDDAC closed out the first half with a touchdown reception by Ty Clayton. The Stewart champions didn't connect on the extra point, and went into halftime with the 13-7 lead.
The first series of the second half yielded yet another score, with the Marines tying the game. The Marines opened with a 20-yard rush by Bradley Brennan.
Once they reached the 15, quarterback Marvin found Chad Doud in the back corner of the end zone for the score. MEDDAC intercepted the extra point attempt, and the score was knotted at 13-13.
In a game-changer, the Marines stopped MEDDAC on their next possession, with an interception to take over on their own 5.
Dustan Griffin collected a 12-yard pass to start the series, followed by a 7-yard keeper by Marvin. Standing at their 24, Marvin found Gregory Rayburn for a 21-yard gain, and a short pass to Brennan brought them to the MEDDAC 33.
Marvin ran twice - 2 yards and 12 yards respectively - to bring the Marines inside the red zone. An 8-yard keeper followed by two incompletions brought the Marines to fourth-and-goal with 11 yards to go. Marvin found Griffin in the end zone for the touchdown, and again for the extra point to give the Marines their first lead of the game, 20-13.
MEDDAC was unable to get a single yard on their next possession, and the Marines took over with 1:26 left in the game, looking to add to their lead.
And they did, with Doud's second touchdown of the game, a 34-yard reception. After the extra point, the Marines were ahead 27-13 with seconds remaining.
MEDDAC added a touchdown in the final seconds of the game, a reception by Joe Weidman. But as the clock ticked off the final seconds, the Marines celebrated their victory.
"They were reading our offensive line really well," Marvin said of their opponents. "So we used the lineman as a decoy to them too run up the field to open up a lane. When they closed the lanes, we went back to passing."
During the game, the Hunter champions lost a key player, lineman Dominic Pittman, to a knee injury. But the champions turned the negative into a positive.
"When we lost Pittman, one of our best defenseman, he came to the sideline and was our on-the-line eye," Marvin said. "He told us what we were doing wrong, and to adjust our zones."
For the runners up, their problems were obvious to their coach.
"We were faster than them, but we weren't grabbing their flags," said Carl Croon. "Our game plan was to run first, and we were able to do that in the first half, but then in the second we [were throwing] and dropping a lot of passes. And I didn't give [receiver] Junior Boykins the ball enough."
But in the end, the game was won by the team. "No matter what, we didn't want to make any mistakes," Marvin said after accepting the championship trophy. "And we didn't make many."