By Scott Prater
Bob Black threw five touchdown passes Sept. 28, leading Players Pool to a 39-19 win against 50th Space Communications Squadron and garnering the top seed in the league’s playoff tournament.
Players Pool entered the game, the regular-season finale for both teams, with just one loss, and tied with both the 2nd and 4th Space Operations Squadrons for first place.
“We needed to win and score a lot of points to make sure we won all of the tiebreakers,” Black said. “Considering we only had nine players here today, I think we managed pretty well.”
Behind Carlton Stokes’s running and passing, 50 SCS presented a double threat for Players Pool defenders. Stokes drove 50 SCS the length of the field on the game’s opening possession and capped the drive by connecting with Sam Bessinger on a 30-yard scoring pass. Bessinger caught the pass across the middle, spun away from two defenders and outran the rest of Players Pool’s coverage along the far sideline to give 50 SCS the early lead.
Black wasted little time answering the score. He’s led his team to the flag football championship in each of the past two seasons and hopes to do so again this year via the no-huddle spread offense, which features an empty back field and five receivers.
He hit Jamey Richardi on a scoring pass across the middle of the field on Players Pool’s fourth play from scrimmage and never stopped connecting with his receivers. Players Pool scored on every possession of the first half. Richardi caught his second touchdown pass midway through and as 50 SCS focused on stopping him, Black simply looked for alternate targets. He threw his third touchdown and gave Players Pool an insurmountable lead with less than a minute to play in the first half when he found Florian Litim in the back right corner of the end zone.
“We wanted to get our offense rolling today and it worked out pretty well; this was the most points we’ve scored this season,” Black said. “With our offense, somebody is always open. I just have to find the right guy and today our receivers found the gaps in the defense.”
Trailing by three scores, 50 SCS refused to quit.
Stokes, 50 SCS team co-captain, opened the second half by driving his team the length of the field. He connected with several receivers on short passes, then reeled off a 40-yard touchdown run where he dodged and weaved through nearly the entire Players Pool defense.
“We were happy with the way we came back,” Stokes, team co-captain, said. “Our guys never gave up and I think that helps provide some momentum for us going into the post-season tournament.”
Stokes’ touchdown cut Players Pool’s lead to 27-13, but the comeback was short-lived as Black hit Litim on a 60-yard scoring pass on the very next play.
Once again, 50 SCS answered with its own long drive and a Bessinger touchdown, but Players Pool countered with a score when Zach Probasco took a Black pass 40 yards to the house to end the game.
Players Pool, 4 SOPS and 2 SOPS all finished the regular season with 6-1 records, but Players Pool earned the top playoff seed thanks to its head-to-head record and total points during the season. The No. 2 seed went to 4 SOPS while 2 SOPS was relegated to third.