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116th makes comeback for football championship

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- The 116th Air Control Wing overcame three interceptions from a rookie quarterback to garner a come-from-behind 24-20 victory over the 19th Air Refueling Group in the intramural flag football championship game.

Capt. Eric Smith, quarterbacking the 116th ACW for the first time this season, got off to a rocky start, throwing interceptions in his team's first two possessions. But he rebounded with three touchdown passes to lead his team to its second intramural championship in three years.

"Our regular quarterback didn't show up tonight so it was my first start all year. It took me awhile to get adjusted but our offensive line played a great game and gave me time to make some great plays so really all the kudos go to them," Smith said. "We had some regular players deploy and we are a little short manned but we overcame some adversity and won the game."

Things looked good for the 116th ACW from the outset. On the very first play from scrimmage, Staff Sgt. Glenn Shiloh intercepted a pass from 19th quarterback Devereux Glass to give his team good field position. But just a few plays later, Smith returned the favor, throwing the first of his three interceptions. The 19th took advantage and several big pass plays followed by a touchdown pass to Tech. Sgt. Reggie Orr and the 19th held a six-point lead.

On the next possession, 19th ARG cornerback Shunthany Banks intercepted another Smith pass. Glass drove the team down the field, scoring on a quarterback sneak from a few yards out. The 19th ARG missed its second consecutive point after touchdown kick, but held a 12-0 lead with time running out in the first half.

The 116th ACW regrouped and Smith drove his team for a touchdown in the final seconds of the half. A razzle-dazzle, pass-and-pitch play took the ball to the three-yard line and Smith ran it in from there with just 37 seconds remaining in the half. At the break, the 19th clung to a 12-8 lead.

The 19th ARG looked to regain momentum in the second half. Back-to-back defensive sacks had the 116th ACW third and long, backed up deep in its own territory. Smith took a bad snap, scrambled to the sideline and launched a long bomb, caught by Capt. Leland Perry, who ran for the 93-yard touchdown to give the team its first lead.

"My teammates got me open and my quarterback made a good throw. I am just glad I didn't drop it," Perry said.

After a defensive stop, the 116th ACW took control of the ball - and of the clock. The team ran more than eight minutes off the clock on its possession, which ended in a 25-yard touchdown pass from Smith to Perry, giving the team a 24-12 lead with just over five minutes remaining in the game.

The 19th ARG didn't quit however. Glass connected with Orr for a second time on a 35-yard touchdown pass to pull his team to within four points with just over two minutes left in the game. Orr then intercepted a Smith pass a few plays later, but the 116th ACW's defense held on for the victory. The ACW went undefeated on the season.

"We had great leadership. We were really united and had a lot of fun all season long," Perry said. "We practiced a lot and really enjoyed it. We are glad we were fortunate enough to pull out a win for the 116th."