The officers of the 3rd Sustainment Brigade wreaked vengeance on the unit’s noncommissioned officers during Tuesday’s third annual Turkey Bowl, played at Fort Stewart’s Bennett Sports Complex. The NCOs won the flag football game the first two years but this year, the officers skunked the NCOs, 13-0.
The NCOs’ hope for a “three-peater” were dashed by officers quarterback Maj. Geno Fewell’s leadership and wide receiver 1st Lt. Derek Jones’ swift feet.
“Sgt. Maj. (Ricky) Davis told me that whenever Lt. Jones got his hands on the ball, he had two choices,” explained 3rd SB Command Sgt. Maj. Clifton Johnson, who served as the NCO team captain and quarterback. “He said, ‘I could pull a hamstring trying to catch him, or I could just let him go.’”
The game remained scoreless throughout the entire first half and third quarter with numerous turnovers on each side. Then, early in the fourth quarter, Jones caught a pass from Fewell and soared down the sideline for the first score of the game. Maj. Tony Marante followed up with the extra-point conversion.
The NCOs tried hard to push the ball back up the field and even the score, but an interception by Maj. Keyante Bradshaw with little more than a minute left in the game gave the officers a chance for another score. Announcer Spc. Patrick Agwu said the game was pretty much over.
“And that should probably do it,” he said, his deep voice reverberating across the field. Seconds later, Fewell scored again with a quarterback sneak, leading Agwu to do an impersonation of one of their NCOs that everyone immediately recognized.
In fact, Agwu was as much a part of the entertainment as the game itself with his impersonations and comical commentary.
When one of officers bulldogged his way through the line then danced around would-be “tacklers” to protect his flags, Agwu said, “I’m telling you, we need to test that guy.”
The rules of flag football are somewhat different from regular football. For one thing, the game is played on an 80- by-40 yard field instead of a 100- by 50-yard field, and quarters are 12 minutes instead of 15. Both teams had male and female players and were supposed to keep at least one female per team on the field at all times. However, the NCOs only had one female player, Sgt. 1st Class Jennifer Atherton, who was allowed two short breaks per quarter. Maj. Catherine Howard and Capt. Adrian Johnson alternated playing for the officers’ team. Atherton was adamant that flag football is not a “man’s” sport.
After the game, the players gathered around 3rd SB Commander Col. Ron Novack to be congratulated for a great game and to present the trophy to the officers, who succeeded in restoring some of the pride lost in the two previous Turkey Bowls.
“There’s a reason we play sports,” Sgt. Maj. Johnson told everyone. “It for the camaraderie and it’s for the fun of playing. I look at today’s loss like a changing of the guard as I prepare to leave the brigade. We kicked y’all’s butts two years in a row, and y’all kicked ours today. But we’re still 2-1!”
Johnson, who is nearing his 50th birthday and has been with the 3rd SB for six years, will be leaving the unit soon for a new logistics assignment at Fort Lee, Va.