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As the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Army flag football team lined up against the Navy Region Northwest, coach Lonnie Meredith called to his team, Lets display our character!
Near the end of the game, with less than two minutes on the clock, Army took possession of the ball after Navy had established a 13-9 lead. Army quarterback David Sadlemyer marched the Black and Gold down the field, highlighted by a 26-yard pass completion to Thomas Blaine, to lift Army to a Puget Sound Classic victory Nov. 30 at Cowan Stadium, Lewis Main. A flag football-rule 3-point conversion made the final score 18-13.
Army repeated as champion after winning the trophy in Silverdale in 2011.
These guys competed and thats all I can ask for, Meredith said. They played their hearts out. I asked them to do something and they just did it.
After the 13th annual Puget Sound Classic trophy was awarded to the Army, Meredith announced to both teams he was stepping down as Army coach after seven seasons.
Its time to move on, he said. I want to sit in the stands now.
Joining Meredith in a farewell is eighth-year Army player Markeyces Wadley. He played in the inaugural game in 2000 and returned to play in each of the seven games since because, he said, his teammates became like family. But with his daughter now playing basketball, Wadley wants to be a supportive father to her.
I need to be there for her and not be there for Dad all the time, he said. Im still going to support them. Im just going to take some family time.
Sadlemyer returned as quarterback this year after engineering Armys 2011 win. The Soldier suffered a blood clot from a hit in last years game, and for a while, didnt think he could compete this year. But his doctor gave him the go-ahead in September and he started to prepare. The victory is meaningful for him as he gets ready to PCS to Korea in May.
Its my last hoorah for at least a year, Sadlemyer said.
Last weeks 2012 cliffhanger will be memorable for both teams as the rivals battled down to the wire in driving rain and swirling winds.
Army got on the board early in the first quarter on a safety, but Navy established a 7-2 lead to go into halftime. Army reclaimed the lead in the third quarter when Sadlemyer threw a 22-yard pass to Antonio Ransom. Navy answered with a score of its own in the fourth quarter to see-saw the score to 13-9 and set up Army for its game-winning drive.
Weve got good receivers with good hands, Sadlemyer said. They run good routes and get open. All I have to do is throw the ball.
As the clock wound down in the fourth quarter, the rain fell harder, especially during Blaines dramatic, game-winning catch.
When I caught it I wasnt sure where I was, Blaine said. I just wanted to stay in bounds. I realized I was in bounds and turned around and walked in the end zone.
Blaine was playing in his fourth rivalry game. Like many of the Army-Navy game veterans, he made an impact and was glad to give his coach a winning sendoff.