With the 31st Test and Evaluation Squadron Desert Pirates ending the regular flag football season ranked fifth and the 412th Medical Group Desert Medics ranked third, the two underdogs provided a thriller of a game for fans in attendance set to watch the 2012 Edwards flag football intramural championship at Wings Field Nov. 29.
In what turned out to be an offensive showdown, this year’s flag football program ended with the 31st TES defeating the 412th MDG 32-21.
“I never doubted our team. It seemed we were our own worst enemy this season. As was the case with most teams, we often struggled with participation and we ended up putting ourselves in a hole during the regular season,” said Staff Sgt. Joe Masei, 31st TES flag football coach and player. “I knew that if we could come together and make a playoff run as a team, we would be just as good as everyone else. Fortunately, we rediscovered our chemistry just in time for the playoffs and ultimately the championship game.”
Initially, turnovers hurt the Desert Medics early in the first quarter with the 31st TES intercepting the first play from scrimmage that later resulted in a touchdown on a fourth-and-goal passing play to Staff Sgt. Rashaud Johnson, although the 31st TES extra point try was returned for a point the other way. The 31st TES soon came on the offensive, scoring on a repeat fourth down conversion from midfield to lead 13-1 with only five minutes played.
The 412th MDG quickly battled back to score a touchdown of their own when Senior Airman Andrew Travis scrambled to cut the deficit to 13-8, only to see the 31st TES drive, with the help of Masei, make a 50-yard completion for a touchdown to lead 19-8 at the start of the second quarter. Masei would go on to catch three touchdowns during the night for the individual honors in a game where there were many standouts.
Midway through the second quarter, the Desert Medics played catch up and reduced the arrears with their second touchdown and extra point only to see Masei catch the deep ball again shortly before the half for a Desert Pirates 26-15 half-time lead.
Defense finally prevailed in the third quarter with a scoreless quarter and then the pendulum swung a little in the 412th MDG’s favor when they cut the lead to just one score midway through the fourth quarter to trail 26-21 after an unsuccessful extra point try. With time running down, the 31st TES would then go on a time-consuming drive from deep in their own territory converting on two pivotal third down conversions. With the 412th MDG desperately needing a stop, it was Masei again who hooked up in the back of the end zone for a leaping touchdown reception to stretch the lead to 32-21.
Near the end, the Desert Medics, starting at their own 20-yard line, made it to the length of the field themselves, but were held up on the fourth down at the Pirates’ five-yard line with time expiring and the final score remaining 32-21 in favor of the Pirates.
“Hats off to the Med Group, they definitely showed that they belonged in the championship game. I was honestly never ‘comfortable’ with the lead that we had because they consistently closed the scoring gap each time we tried extending it,” said Masei. “Looking back, I’m glad the game was competitive because it feels a little more rewarding in the end, but during the game, a little less fight from those guys definitely would have eased some nerves.”
For information on upcoming intramural sports, contact the Base Fitness Center at (661) 275-GYM1.