The Army flag-football team continued its winning tradition Saturday, beating the Navy 28-0 at Gerlach Field.
“It was hard fought on both sides,” said Army quarterback Deangelo Stevenson, who threw for two touchdowns, rushed for one and added four extra points on 2-point conversion plays. “It was definitely a spectator’s event — we were going all-out, 100 miles an hour, the whole time.”
Largely made up of players from this year’s 554th Engineer Battalion team — which won the Commander’s Cup Flag Football Tournament Oct. 18 — the Army team had been preparing since that time for the annual contest with the Navy.
“We’ve developed a chemistry that is very, very helpful with how we execute our game plan,” said Army wide receiver Jeff O’Loughlin, who scored the final touchdown of the game on a 10-yard pass from Stevenson. “It’s very advantageous for us.”
The Navy team was made up of nine Navy Detachment players and six players from the U.S. Marine Corps Detachment.
The Army team wasted little time scoring in the first half. After earning two first downs on the opening series of the game, Stevenson threw a 15-yard pass to Demetrius Smedley in the end zone. Stevenson then ran in the 2-point conversion to take an early 8-0 lead.
Navy quarterback Connor Prentiss marched the team down to the 5-yard line on a series of short passes, but couldn’t get past the Army secondary. On a fourth-down and 5 play, Army cornerback Steven Sloan batted down a pass intended for Navy receiver Joseph Houser to turn the ball over on downs.
It wasn’t long, however, before the Navy had the ball back in its possession, with its secondary breaking up back-to-back passing attempts, and a sack by Houser stalling the Army’s advance at the 30-yard line.
But the Navy offense also had trouble gaining momentum, stymied by a sack by Army defender Rodriquez Mizell and passes batted down by Emmanuel Eleby. An interception by Stevenson gave the Army the ball back at its own 35-yard line.
The Army team slogged forward on runs by Stevenson, and a pass to Waddell Tollison to the 21-yard line. From there, on a third-down play, Stevenson made a lateral pitch to Lionel Hunter, who ran the ball in from the 20-yard line for the second touchdown of the game. Stevenson then ran in the 2-point conversion to give the Army a 16-0 lead as the first half drew to a close.
In the second half, the Navy nearly scored twice, once on an interception by Navy defender Matt Meske and another on a pass from Prentiss to Patrick Longoria, but both plays were nixed by personal fouls.
Steven scored again midway through the half, when, scrambling out of the pocket around the 30-yard line, he found a clear path to the end zone and ran more than 45 yards for a touchdown. The Navy defense deflected the 2-point conversion attempt, but the Army still held a 22-point lead.
The pass from Stevenson to O’Loughlin extended the Army’s lead a few minutes later, leaving the Navy with less than a minute of game time remaining.
“I just tried to seize the opportunity and take advantage of what they gave me. To be able to score and go on to win the game was just icing on the cake,” O’Loughlin said.
However, on the first play following the kickoff to the Navy, Army defender Ricardo Spriggs intercepted a pass to give the Army the ball with 28 seconds remaining.
After running one play to burn the Navy’s last time out, Stevenson ran out the clock.
Col. Eric Towns, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood commander, presented his coin to Stevenson, naming him the MVP of the game.
Stevenson credited his teammates for the victory.
“It was definitely a team win, for sure,” Stevenson said. “I mean you can see where the team play came in, because as soon as I would get a little winded, our other quarterback (Hunter) would come in and pick right up where I left off.”
Towns then presented the traveling championship plaque to the Army team.
Glen Banks, Army coach, said he was proud of his players, who “just came out and did what (they) normally do.”
“We did really well,” he said. “We have pretty much the same team we had from the intramural league, so we all knew each other.”
14th MP Bde. presented with award
Earlier, during halftime, Towns and William Wasil, Fort Leonard Wood’s new director of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, presented the 2018 Intramural Championship Trophy to the 14th Military Police Brigade. The award is presented annually to the unit that earns the most points by participating in the installation’s intramural seasons, which include flag football, volleyball, basketball, bowling, soccer, golf and softball.
Col. Kurt Schroeder, 14th MP Bde. commander, and 14th MP Bde. Command Sgt. Maj. Greg Kleinholz accepted the trophy.
“It feels great to win (the championship) back-to-back. We won it last year, as well,” Schroeder said. “It’s a great team effort from all the battalions within the 14th MP Brigade. This environment is a tough environment to balance out work and family. (Our Soldiers) all do it very well. To come out and play some sports on your off-time is a testament to the leadership within the 14th Military Police Brigade.”
Other Army/Navy events on post
Saturday had several events dedicated to the Army/Navy competition. The day began with an Army/Navy 5K fun run, also held at Gerlach Field. Steve Richardson, FMWR Community Recreation chief, said turnout was strong despite some chilly conditions.
“We had 150 turn out for our run on a 23-degree morning,” Richardson said.
Saturday marked the 14th victory for the Army team in the 15-year history of the annual flag-football contest on Fort Leonard Wood, traditionally held the same day as the collegiate Army/Navy game. In the collegiate game, the Army also won, with the Black Knights defeating the Navy Midshipmen 17-10.