Yuma Proving Ground is the home to two of the Army’s elite airborne entities, and they once again faced off against each other for a little bit of gridiron fun on the day before the Thanksgiving holiday in what was dubbed as the 2nd Annual Turkey Bowl.
The flag football game pitted the Military Freefall School, Company B, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Special Warfare Training Group, who were looking to avenge a loss in last year’s game, against the Airborne Test Force (ATF), one of the Department of Defense’s (DOD) premier developmental airdrop test facilities.
ATF got on the scoreboard first on a safety by Staff Sgt. Ahmed Elinbabi and would never trail in the game, going on to eventually win in a lopsided victory by a score of 79 to 28, despite the freefall school’s best effort.
Sergeant 1st Class Justin Duvall, who played quarterback for ATF, then hit Sgt. Casey Simmons in the corner of the endzone two possessions later, despite him being double covered. The freefall school would answer right back, however, on a short touchdown of its own by Sgt. 1st Class Scott Hatcher.
Freefall would score again with less than 20 seconds to go before halftime on a long pass from quarterback Sgt. 1st Class Ed Varley to Staff Sgt. Darrell Eddings.
Played 8-on-8, the game consisted of two 30-minute running clock quarters and required the offense to pass or run the ball up a shortened field to the end zone for a touchdown. Defensive players were also allowed to rush the quarterback after a four-second count.
YPG Chaplain Maj. Ryan Pearse and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Kieth Perry served as the referees for the game. YPG Commander Col. John Nelson and Asst. Garrison Manager Dan Carter were also among the spectators and family members who gathered at Cox Field to watch.
Duval said at halftime that he was ecstatic how well he and his ATF teammates were playing, adding that he was expecting it would be a high-scoring game from both teams.
“The camaraderie and fellowship we have out here is super fun,” Duval said. “Both teams are putting up points. This is already more points than both teams scored last year.”
Although the win gave ATF bragging rights until next year’s game, Duval added that the game was more about building esprit de corps and creating lasting memories, rather than winning or losing.
“It helps to build a bridge between the two units,” Duval stated.
Facing an unrelenting defense which returned at least three interceptions for touchdowns, the freefall school was never really able to get its offense going, and could not keep pace with ATF, which scored on almost every possession it had.
Nelson, who had the honor of presenting ATF with the coveted Turkey Bowl trophy, stated afterwards that, “It was good to see the families out here and the competition between the two organizations, but also understanding that we are all still one YPG team, having a good time before the holidays.”
A potluck style dinner was held for the teams after the game at the community center.
|YUMA PROVING GROUND, AZ, US