SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --
In 2014, the 1st and 3rd Space Operations Squadrons played one of the most thrilling intramural football championship games in Schriever Air Force Base history.
3 SOPS put the only blemish on 1 SOPS’s record that season with a 31-25 victory as a late 1 SOPS drive ended when quarterback Josh Print’s final pass fell incomplete.
Print, who said that game was “the best flag football game I’ve ever played in,” and 1 SOPS had to wait two years to avenge the loss, but took full advantage of the opportunity as the squadron scored on five of its six possessions en route to a 35-18 win in the championship game here Thursday.
“This was redemption,” Print said. “We were undefeated going into that game (in 2014) and that loss hurt.”
Print had a hand in all five 1 SOPS touchdowns, throwing four and running in another, as the 2016 squad remained undefeated.
“We just wanted to take care of the ball, get first downs and score,” Print said. “We had faith in our defense to stop them.”
The defense grabbed a first half interception and forced a turnover on downs early in the second half to give 1 SOPS a cushion and take some of the pressure off the offense to score.
“That interception was a big turning point,” said Stephen Welling, 3 SOPS. “You need to score every time against them.”
Welling connected with Tyrelle Shepherd on a 30-yard touchdown pass to open scoring, but failed to convert the PAT. Print capped a 6-play drive on the ensuing possession with an 8-yard TD run. The PAT gave 1 SOPS an early 7-6 lead.
Welling threw the interception on the next possession and 1 SOPS took advantage of 3 SOPS’s defensive game plan by throwing short passes to methodically move down the field. Print found Derrick Burnett for a 6-yard TD pass and the successful PAT extended the lead to 14-6.
“We wanted to take what they gave us,’’ Print said. “We made the short passes and got more confident.”
“We changed to a Cover 3 and they were throwing the deep outs,” Welling said. “Props to them. They recognized the coverage and took advantage.”
3 SOPS cut the lead to two as Welling found Shepherd for their second TD pass of the game, but Print answered with his second TD pass to Burnett to give 1 SOPS a 21-12 lead at halftime.
1 SOPS opened the second half with the Print-Burnett combination finding paydirt for the third time, giving 1 SOPS a 28-12 lead. 3 SOPS moved the ball down to the 5 on the ensuing possession, but two straight passes were dropped in the end zone, forcing a turnover on downs.
1 SOPS began connecting on longer passes on the next drive, with completions of 17 and 13 yards before Print hit a 30-yard catch-and-run to Seth Miller to push the lead to 35-12.
“(The short passes) played into our strategy,” Print said. “It was a little different game in the regular season.”
3 SOPS scored quickly on the next drive, needing only five plays before Welling found Shepherd for the third time to close out the scoring.
“Our hat’s off to them,” Print said. “This was the most competitive game we had all season.”