By Randy Dela Cruz, Ho'okele Sports Editor
On a night when both teams had to scramble for players, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Security Mean Machine won the battle of attrition to upset Red Division leader Joint Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command (JPAC), 27-26, in overtime on Dec. 3 at Ward Field, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
While the win was perhaps the most satisfying victory in an otherwise frustrating season for the Mean Machine, players on the team reflected on what could have been.
Although tied for the fourth and final playoff spot, the team fell out of the running after a review of head-to-head matchups and saw its season come to a close for 2013.
JPAC qualified for the postseason as the division’s No. 3 seed and will meet the 647th Logistics Readiness Squadron (647 LRS) in the first round of the playoffs on Dec. 7 at Ward Field starting at 4 p.m.
“This win means a lot,” said Master-at-Arms 3rd Class Chase Jones, who made the game-winning catch on a point after touch-down from quarterback Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Tanner Arcement.
“It shows how good we actually are considering we haven’t had a single practice all season long. We work shift work as security, and we all have three different shifts. In the past four weeks, we’ve only had seven people show up.
“We lost our best receiver (Master-at-Arms 3rd Class Kyle Nelson) for four games and we lost three of those games by less than three points. I figured, if we had him, we would have finished the season at 8-2 and ready to run to playoffs,” Jones said.
While JPAC entered the game tied among the division leaders with only one defeat, from the start their showdown with the Mean Machine had the makings of a shootout.
On the very first play, JPAC quarterback Master Sgt. Rick June rolled to his right and threw across his body to a wide open Sgt. 1st Class Craig Prouty, who had beat his coverage down the left sideline.
Prouty made the over-the-head grab and cruised into the end zone to hand JPAC a quick 6-0 lead.
Despite the quick strike by JPAC, Arcement calmly stepped behind center and directed a 65-yard drive on six plays to tie the score.
After picking up first downs on runs of 13 and 14 yards, Arcement misfired on three straight passes before connecting on a clutch, fourth-down, 36-yard bomb to Master-at-Arms 3rd Class Tyler Camden.
The point after touchdown put the Mean Machine in front at 7-6.
Back with the ball, June wasted little time in putting JPAC out in front by completing three straight passes with the third toss going over the top to Staff Sgt. Andrew Smith for a 12-7 advantage.
However, Arcement wasn’t done for the first half.
The quarterback put together another 65-yard drive, this time needing eight plays for the go-ahead score.
During the drive, Arcement came up with another clutch fourth-down pass before going downfield to Camden for 39 yards and a TD.
The touchdown led to the Mean Machine taking a 14-12 lead going into the half.
Following the break, the Mean Machine immediately went on the attack as Arcement completed back-to-back passes to Nelson, before going over the top one more time to Camden who beat the JPAC defense again and grabbed a 42-yard pass from Arcement for a 20-12 lead.
Then with time running out, June took the snap from his own 28 and almost took it to the house on a keeper to the Mean Machine three-yard line.
From there, June found Rafael Santana, a Department of Defense civilian, for a touchdown before completing a two-point conversion to tie and send the game into overtime.
In OT, June put JPAC ahead on a 20-yard keeper for six, but Arcement tied the score on a pass to Nelson before completing the game-winning pass to Jones.
In absorbing only their second loss of the season, June said that the defeat had no meaning and it won’t affect the team’s run in the playoffs.
“We’re going to keep the same focus,” June said. “This game really doesn’t matter. When the playoffs start, we’ll be focused.”
Camden, on the other hand, stated that no matter how the season ended, to finish off one of the top teams on base still says a lot about the Mean Machine.
“I think that we play really well as a team,” he said. “We’ve always had confidence in ourselves. The games that we’ve lost was when we were shorthanded. This win really solidified how much we can work together, face adversity and come back.”