34th IS overcomes rocky start to top 327th Signal Co.
Quarterback hits 9 for 11 and three touchdowns in win
By Brandon Bieltz
The quarterback of the 34th Intelligence Squadron opened last week's intramural flag football game with two interceptions off his first two passes. But Daniels closed out the game with three touchdowns after going 9 for 11.
"You just shrug it off; that's football," he said of his early interceptions. "I forget whatever happened last play. Each play is a new play."
Daniels' performance helped lead the 34th IS to a 20-12 victory over the Spartans of the 327th Signal Company. The win on Oct. 4 at Mullins Field improved the 34th IS record to 6-1, breaking a third place tie with the 327th.
Both teams entered last week's game with a 5-1 record. The 34th's only loss came at the hands of the undefeated 29th IS. The 29th's 12 points were from two red zone errors by the 34th IS.
"We didn't have any problem driving the ball, but we couldn't put it in the red zone," Daniels said. "It was two tipped passes by the wide receivers, and their defense caught the ball and returned [the interceptions] for two touchdowns."
Spartans quarterback Kevin McKeegan attributed the team's early season loss to the Blue Knights to lack of chemistry and practice.
"It was the beginning of the season and we hadn't played together," he said.
After its Week 1 loss, the Spartans went on a five-game win streak with credit to the good hands of wide receiver Tim Strader, McKeegan said.
Crucial errors plagued both teams early in last week's game, starting with a failed fourth-down conversion by the Spartans. After turning the ball over at midfield, McKeegan picked off Daniels' first pass and took over at the Spartans 20-yard line.
The Spartans' possession was short-lived after 34th IS Gabriel Haber snagged McKeegan's pass for an interception.
After the 34th IS took possession in the red zone, Daniels threw his second interception to McKeegan for a touchback. McKeegan opened their drive with a deep pass to Strader, who took the ball deep into 34th IS territory. Five plays later, McKeegan scrambled for the touchdown, giving the Spartans a 6-0 lead.
On the following possession, Daniels quickly moved his team down the field with four passes. The drive was capped with a touchdown pass to Daniel Caulder. A successful point after attempt gave the 34th IS the 7-6 lead.
With two minutes left in the first half, McKeegan orchestrated a nine-play drive that moved the Spartans inside the 34th IS 20-yard line. But time ran out on the drive and the 34th IS carried a one-point lead into halftime.
The 34th IS opened the second half with a two-play possession that resulted in the team extending its lead to 13-6. Daniels connected with Sean McDaid on a deep pass. At the 10-yard line, McDaid lateralled the ball to Darius McCracken, who carried the ball into the end zone.
McKeegan again moved his team down the field with a series of short passes, but Caulder intercepted a pass in the end zone for his second interception of the day. The ensuing five-play drive ended with another touchdown as Daniels found Haber in the end zone.
With time running out, the Spartans quickly made their way down the field with three passes, including one in the end zone to Jeremy Ramsey to cut the lead to 20-12. The 34th IS was able to run the clock out on its next possession, giving the team the win.
"I think it was a sloppy first half, but we found out what they were giving us," Daniels said. "They kept giving us single coverage on the corner backs, so we kept trying to send a decoy at the safety, which gave one-on-one on the receivers."
Daniels said despite the early game struggles, the 34th IS remains confident in its abilities.
"We were confident coming in," he said. "We're confident coming out."
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