21st Comm Squadron earns intramural football title

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The 21st Communications Squadron intramural football team rode a second-half rally to win its third consecutive championship 30-14 over North American Aerospace Defense Command/U.S. Northern Command Nov.18 at the Peterson football complex.

The communications team came into the championship game after posting an undefeated regular and post-season record. Included in its post-season record was a close one-point victory over NORAD/NORTHCOM.

Before the game, Hyrom Buchannan, NORAD/NORTHCOM coach, said his team faced a major challenge. But, if any team on base could beat the champions it was his team. He knew there would be one significant thing his team needed to do to win the game.

"We are going to have to maintain our defensive discipline," Buchannan said. "This team has beaten us twice this year by a total of five points and the last time we played (in the playoffs) they beat us by a point."

The 21st CS team wanted its opponent to get out of its defensive position because they are very good at using the pitch game, Buchannan said. In the first half of the game, NORAD/NORTHCOM exercised its game plan well enough to hold a 14-12 halftime lead. The communicators jumped out to an early 6-0 lead when Justin Joseph hit Matt Gougler with a 25-yard touchdown pass. NORAD/NORTHCOM came back on its next series to retake the lead when Norman Scott hooked up with Matt Boatwright on a 65-yard touchdown play and the extra point to give NORAD/NORTHCOM a 7-6 lead.

On its next possession, Joseph hit Tyrone Hall with a 25-yard touchdown strike to help the 21st CS team regain the lead 12-6 with a minute left in the half. NORAD/NORTHCOM took advantage of that minute and scored on a two-yard touchdown pass from Scott to Roosevelt Cooper with five seconds left in the first half. The extra point was good, giving NORAD/NORTHCOM a 14-12 halftime lead.

Going into the second half, it looked like NORAD/NORTHCOM would secure a victory. But, the communications team showed why it has ruled the football intramural sport. First, it employed a smothering defense to shut down the NORAD/NORTHCOM offense. Then, it revved up its potent offense to score the final 18 points of the game.

Buchannan said he credits the champions for doing what they needed to do to get the victory.

"I have to give a lot of credit to their defense," he said. "They stepped it up in the second half and stopped us."

Johnnie Parrish, who has been the coach for all three communications squadron championships, said this title game was the most challenging.

"This was the toughest of the three championships we have won because this was the first year that we also had to protect an undefeated season," Parrish said. "We knew this year we were going to have to commit to playing with a lot of teamwork and that is what we did all year."