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Army Staff Sgt. Elvin Thomas juggles the football as Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jason Zaharris goes for Thomas' flag during Friday's Army-Navy flag-football rivalry game at Misawa Air Base, Japan. Naval Air Facility Misawa beat the Army's 708th Military Intelligence Detachment 27-0 in a game played in wind-blown snow with temperatures around freezing.
Army Staff Sgt. Elvin Thomas juggles the football as Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jason Zaharris goes for Thomas' flag during Friday's Army-Navy flag-football rivalry game at Misawa Air Base, Japan. Naval Air Facility Misawa beat the Army's 708th Military Intelligence Detachment 27-0 in a game played in wind-blown snow with temperatures around freezing. (Sheila Suckart/Special to Stars and Stripes)
Army Staff Sgt. Elvin Thomas juggles the football as Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jason Zaharris goes for Thomas' flag during Friday's Army-Navy flag-football rivalry game at Misawa Air Base, Japan. Naval Air Facility Misawa beat the Army's 708th Military Intelligence Detachment 27-0 in a game played in wind-blown snow with temperatures around freezing.
Army Staff Sgt. Elvin Thomas juggles the football as Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jason Zaharris goes for Thomas' flag during Friday's Army-Navy flag-football rivalry game at Misawa Air Base, Japan. Naval Air Facility Misawa beat the Army's 708th Military Intelligence Detachment 27-0 in a game played in wind-blown snow with temperatures around freezing. (Sheila Suckart/Special to Stars and Stripes)
A Navy honor guard brings the colors onto the field prior to Friday's Army-Navy flag-football rivalry game at Misawa Air Base, Japan. Naval Air Facility Misawa beat the Army's 708th Military Intelligence Detachment 27-0 in a game played in wind-blown snow with temperatures around freezing.
A Navy honor guard brings the colors onto the field prior to Friday's Army-Navy flag-football rivalry game at Misawa Air Base, Japan. Naval Air Facility Misawa beat the Army's 708th Military Intelligence Detachment 27-0 in a game played in wind-blown snow with temperatures around freezing. (Sheila Suckart/Special to Stars and Stripes)
Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Daniel Sanford of NAF Misawa public affairs shovels snow off the field prior to Friday's Army-Navy flag-football rivalry game at Misawa Air Base, Japan. Naval Air Facility Misawa beat the Army's 708th Military Intelligence Detachment 27-0 in a game played in wind-blown snow with temperatures around freezing.
Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Daniel Sanford of NAF Misawa public affairs shovels snow off the field prior to Friday's Army-Navy flag-football rivalry game at Misawa Air Base, Japan. Naval Air Facility Misawa beat the Army's 708th Military Intelligence Detachment 27-0 in a game played in wind-blown snow with temperatures around freezing. (Sheila Suckart/Special to Stars and Stripes)
Navy Lt. Brian Allen manages a victory smile after Friday's Army-Navy flag-football rivalry game at  Misawa Air Base, Japan. Naval Air Facility Misawa beat the Army's 708th Military Intelligence Detachment 27-0 in a game played in wind-blown snow with temperatures around freezing.
Navy Lt. Brian Allen manages a victory smile after Friday's Army-Navy flag-football rivalry game at Misawa Air Base, Japan. Naval Air Facility Misawa beat the Army's 708th Military Intelligence Detachment 27-0 in a game played in wind-blown snow with temperatures around freezing. (Sheila Suckart/Special to Stars and Stripes)
Navy's Joe King and Howard Gomez close in on Army running back Brent Owens during Saturday's 24th Army-Navy flag-football rivalry game at Torii Station, Okinawa. Army rallied to win 27-15.
Navy's Joe King and Howard Gomez close in on Army running back Brent Owens during Saturday's 24th Army-Navy flag-football rivalry game at Torii Station, Okinawa. Army rallied to win 27-15. (Lisa Tourtelot/Stars and Stripes)
Navy running back Quentin Foley charges toward Army defender Brandon Hunter during Saturday's 24th Army-Navy flag-football rivalry game at Torii Station, Okinawa. Army rallied to win 27-15.
Navy running back Quentin Foley charges toward Army defender Brandon Hunter during Saturday's 24th Army-Navy flag-football rivalry game at Torii Station, Okinawa. Army rallied to win 27-15. (Lisa Tourtelot/Stars and Stripes)
Army defender Drew Majors helps Navy quarterback Sanford James to his feet during Saturday's 24th Army-Navy flag-football rivalry game at Torii Station, Okinawa. Army rallied to win 27-15.
Army defender Drew Majors helps Navy quarterback Sanford James to his feet during Saturday's 24th Army-Navy flag-football rivalry game at Torii Station, Okinawa. Army rallied to win 27-15. (Lisa Tourtelot/Stars and Stripes)
Navy receiver Damar Powell-Davis tries to get a handle on the ball during Saturday's 24th Army-Navy flag-football rivalry game at Torii Station, Okinawa. Army rallied to win 27-15.
Navy receiver Damar Powell-Davis tries to get a handle on the ball during Saturday's 24th Army-Navy flag-football rivalry game at Torii Station, Okinawa. Army rallied to win 27-15. (Lisa Tourtelot/Stars and Stripes)
Navy fans cheer a touchdown during Saturday's 24th Army-Navy flag-football rivalry game at Torii Station, Okinawa. Army rallied to win 27-15.
Navy fans cheer a touchdown during Saturday's 24th Army-Navy flag-football rivalry game at Torii Station, Okinawa. Army rallied to win 27-15. (Lisa Tourtelot/Stars and Stripes)
Army's Gerhon Teague and his teammates accept congratulations from the Navy side after Saturday's 24th Army-Navy flag-football rivalry game at Torii Station, Okinawa. Army rallied to win 27-15.
Army's Gerhon Teague and his teammates accept congratulations from the Navy side after Saturday's 24th Army-Navy flag-football rivalry game at Torii Station, Okinawa. Army rallied to win 27-15. (Lisa Tourtelot/Stars and Stripes)
Army players, coaches and supporters cheer their victory in Saturday's 24th Army-Navy flag-football rivalry game at Torii Station, Okinawa. Army rallied to win 27-15.
Army players, coaches and supporters cheer their victory in Saturday's 24th Army-Navy flag-football rivalry game at Torii Station, Okinawa. Army rallied to win 27-15. (Lisa Tourtelot/Stars and Stripes)
Army Col. Sheila Bryant and Sgt. Maj. Shelton Williamson, Torii Station's commanding officer and command sergeant major, hold the Commanders Trophy aloft while Army's players cheer after their 27-15 come-from-behind win over Navy in the 24th Army-Navy flag-football rivalry game at Torii Station, Okinawa.
Army Col. Sheila Bryant and Sgt. Maj. Shelton Williamson, Torii Station's commanding officer and command sergeant major, hold the Commanders Trophy aloft while Army's players cheer after their 27-15 come-from-behind win over Navy in the 24th Army-Navy flag-football rivalry game at Torii Station, Okinawa. (Lisa Tourtelot/Stars and Stripes)
Army quarterback Antuoine Garrett gets sacked during Saturday's Army-Navy flag-football rivalry game at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan. Navy held on to win 13-12.
Army quarterback Antuoine Garrett gets sacked during Saturday's Army-Navy flag-football rivalry game at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan. Navy held on to win 13-12. (James Kimber/Stars and Stripes)
Army receiver Alan Secor gets one foot down in the corner of the end zone to cut Navy's lead to 13-6 in the third quarter of Saturday's Army-Navy flag-football rivalry game at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan. Navy held on to win 13-12.
Army receiver Alan Secor gets one foot down in the corner of the end zone to cut Navy's lead to 13-6 in the third quarter of Saturday's Army-Navy flag-football rivalry game at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan. Navy held on to win 13-12. (James Kimber/Stars and Stripes)
Army tight end Derek Wolske pulls in a high pass on an extra-point attempt to seemingly tie the game 13-13 during the annual Army-Navy flag football game Saturday at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan. Despite having two hands on the ball and planting both feet inbounds, the pass was ruled incomplete, leaving the score 13-12 Navy, which would be the final.
Army tight end Derek Wolske pulls in a high pass on an extra-point attempt to seemingly tie the game 13-13 during the annual Army-Navy flag football game Saturday at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan. Despite having two hands on the ball and planting both feet inbounds, the pass was ruled incomplete, leaving the score 13-12 Navy, which would be the final. (James Kimber/Stars and Stripes)
Navy players celebrate with the trophy following the annual Army-Navy flag football game Saturday at  Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan. Navy led 13-0 at half and hung on to win 13-12.
Navy players celebrate with the trophy following the annual Army-Navy flag football game Saturday at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan. Navy led 13-0 at half and hung on to win 13-12. (James Kimber/Stars and Stripes)

As his teammates celebrated in front of him, holding aloft the Commanders Trophy, Owen Tolson couldn’t suppress a smile. The air defense artillery officer and 2008 West Point graduate had thrown for two touchdowns and kick two field goals Saturday.

But it was defense, he said, that was chiefly responsible for Army’s come-from-behind win over Navy, 27-15, in the 24th annual flag-football rivalry game at Torii Station on Okinawa.

“When your defense holds them to 15 points, you can’t ask for much more,” said Tolson, a placekicker for Army from 2004-07.

The win gave Army its only win in three games this weekend, two of which were played in Japan and in starkly contrasting weather conditions.

Navy won 13-12 at Naval Air Facility Atsugi in bright sunshine, while snow blanketed Hillside Stadium at Misawa Air Base on Friday, where Naval Air Facility Misawa beat 708th Military Intelligence Detachment 27-0. Coupled with Army’s 62-0 shutout of Navy on Nov. 30 in Yongsan, the services tied 2-2 for 2013.

The games are staged annually to coincide with the service-academy game played in the States.

At all four flag games, pomp and pageantry were everywhere, evidenced by sound systems playing the Army and Navy songs, color guards, command representation, cheerleaders and various contests. The prevailing theme: Rivals on the field and comrades in arms off it.

“We have the same goals and desires to complete the mission, but one day out of the year, friendly competition brings out the best in each of us,” said Atsugi’s commanding officer Capt. Steven J. Wieman, himself a Naval Academy graduate.

“When we get on the field, we have a good time, but the nature of our business is serious,” said Col. Sheila Bryant, Torii’s 10th Regional Support Group commanding officer.

Army seized an 18-6 lead in the Okinawa Commanders Trophy series, the oldest of all of them dating back to 1990. The game was marked by numerous first-half penalties and nine combined interceptions.

At Atsugi, Navy rolled to a 13-0 halftime lead before Army stormed back for two second-half touchdowns. Army appeared to have tied it on an extra-point pass caught by Derek Wolske, but the pass was ruled incomplete, preserving Navy’s lead.

Navy’s Tony Cason picked off two passes and called the victory a “total team effort. We came out for practice every day at 5 O’clock … the hours of practice, going through plays and game situations to think what the Army might hit us with and be prepared for it.”

The game at Misawa looked more like a word picture from the 1933 Edward Evans book “South With Scott.” Windblown snow, which fell all game long, provided the backdrop as NAF Misawa won for the third straight year.

“I was praying hard that we would have cold and snow. I guess I prayed too hard,” said NAF Misawa spokesman Master Chief Petty Officer Daniel Sanford. He himself brandished a shovel to clear snow off a yard line prior to the contest.

“It was pretty miserable at first,” Navy quarterback Joe Baer said. “But once we started moving around, it wasn’t too bad.”

It will be the last time the teams will play at Misawa, Sanford said, citing the 708th being scheduled to be shuttered in June.

Staff writers Dave Ornauer and James Kimber contributed to this report.

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