MSU, Sheppard Air Force Base clash in flag football


A. Defore

The MSU intramural flag football championship team took a close win in the final quarter at 42-34, Oct. 14.

Two of Wichita Falls’ most iconic institutions clashed on the gridiron last Friday in the spirit of both competition and community. The MSU intramural flag football championship team and Sheppard Air Force Base’s recreational league flag football champion played on MSU’s practice field and delivered a thrilling game that MSU ultimately won by a score of 42-34.

Sheppard took a 20-14 lead into halftime, and led for most of the game until MSU tied the game at 28 with 4:20 remaining in the game. As soon as Sheppard got the ball back, the airmen began to drive down a field with a methodical, marching drive that stalled with just under two minutes left in the game. On a critical fourth down, MSU came up with a tide-turning stop and capitalized with a touchdown to take their first lead of the game.

Cason Shank, nursing junior and team captain, said the fourth-down stop was the biggest moment in the game and provided a springboard for the Mustangs to take control of the game.

“The whole first half we didn’t stop them, every time they had the ball they scored, and so on that fourth down, they needed maybe five or six yards. I was telling [the team] ‘nothing over the top, keep it short,’ and we came up with the hold and as soon as we did that I knew all we had to do was capitalize with a touchdown. We went up and we had the momentum,” Shank said.

After MSU scored to take a 36-28 lead, Sheppard answered with a quick deep strike for a touchdown but missed the two-point conversion to put the score at 36-34. One more MSU touchdown would complete the scoring and leave the final scoreboard at 42-34 for the home team.

Cody Ford, assistant director of the Wellness Center, was one of the primary organizers of the exhibition. He said the game was exactly what he hoped for.

“It was amazing, we couldn’t ask for a better game honestly. That’s the type of game you want, high-scoring and it’s decided by the last few plays. I feel like everybody was on their seats the last few minutes, and regardless of the winner, everybody had a blast I think. They really enjoyed it, everybody thanked us for setting it up, and we’re definitely going to have more support in the future for programs like this,” Ford said.

The game was set up to deepen ties between the MSU and Sheppard communities, and Sheppard sports and programs director Chris Hall said there are plans for similar events in the future.

“[We] want to have a good partnership with MSU and Sheppard going forward, right now with all our intramural sports programs. Next we’ll do volleyball, then basketball and softball. And really just want to strengthen this relationship, I mean we’re the two largest entities that kind of make Wichita Falls run,” Hall said.

Ford joked about the competition both on and off the football field between MSU and Sheppard, but stressed that ultimately the event was about bringing the two closer together.

“We like to joke we’re the two biggest campuses. Sheppard Air Force Base, if you didn’t know, is one of the largest training bases in the country, and we’re the biggest university in Wichita Falls, so we’re kind of fighting for the biggest-in-Wichita-Falls trophy. We want to join forces and try to make sure that this community is going forward,” Ford said, adding “The whole idea is to build those connections.”

Sheppard Air Force Base’s recreational league flag football team put up a strong fight during the game, staying ahead of MSU until the final quarter, Oct. 14.
Sheppard Air Force Base’s recreational league flag football team put up a strong fight during the game, staying ahead of MSU until the final quarter, Oct. 14. (A. Defore)

Shank said he was excited both to compete and to help further the ties between Sheppard and MSU.

“They have a bunch of great guys too. Just being able to come here, kind of collaborate with them not only brings us together as a community, but it gets us out here, gets us active. Being able to put on a show for the people that want to come out,” Shank said.

After all the coordination between the two entities, the logistics of making the game happen and the significance of the collaboration, Hall summed up the final event.

“Ultimately, both teams played great, so it was a fun game to watch,” Hall said.

Sheppard Air Force Base is slated to hold a similar exhibition in volleyball in December, and basketball and softball games are planned for spring of 2023.