By Marcus Henderson
The visiting Chosen Christian Sports Ministries missed a two-point conversion attempt to fall 32-31 to San Quentin’s All-Madden flag football team on a wet and muddy field.
“I was surprised and happy the administration let us play in these conditions,” said D. “Zayd” Nickolson. “It’s always like a semi-pro experience when we play these guys. Their line did a great job. I’m glad I did my part to get the win.”
With 2:00 minutes left in the game, All-Madden was down 25-24. Their quarterback, John Windham, put together a string of runs, moving the chains. Then he found a streaking wide receiver for a big first and goal play. From there, Windham ran in easily for the touchdown and a 30-25 lead with a minute and 19 seconds left on the clock.
The Chosen hoped to put on a drive of their own, but quarterback Phil Volta was sacked in the end zone by defensive end Nickolson for the safety.
After the safety and down 32-25, the Chosen was looking for a miracle. All-Madden didn’t run the clock out. Instead Windham threw a fade away pass to a wide receiver that was intercepted by Chosen Omar Bennett.
The Chosen was sacked once again with 10 seconds left. But on second down Volta threw a Hail Mary to a streaking Andre Jackson for the touchdown. With the score 32-31, the Chosen elected to go for a two-point conversion for the win instead of the tie.
Under a lot of pressure, Volta’s pass missed the receiver in the end zone, officially ending the game.
“This was fun,” said Bennett. “I respect all the players and this special program. This gives us a chance to bring some of the outside world inside.”
“That was the Mud Bowl,” said Windham. “I look forward to playing them. This is therapy; you learn to improve your social behavior, because we got here on anti-social behavior.
“This program works because I think society would want us to be more social.”
In the first half, All-Madden started the game fast with a defensive interception and a rushing touchdown by Windham. The Chosen struggled offensively but defensively they had two interceptions returned for touchdowns, one from Jackson and one from AJ Haynes.
“We come to give and receive positivity,” said Haynes. “When you see the smiles, when we come down the hill you know it’s all love.”
Chosen Jimmy Brown added, “It’s about sending the message that we haven’t forgotten y’all. People would be surprised how much you can get from men who are deprived.”
All-Madden pulled out a couple of trick plays for scores. One bootleg play from Windham to Jason Jones, who threw for a touchdown. And a second lateral screen pass to Jones, who threw for big yards, kept the game tight.
Chosen coach Pastor Wayne Jackson gave an inspirational half-time speech and parting words, using the story of Samson and Delilah from the Bible.
“God is the one who gives strength, so don’t play with sin. Do things with the spirit of God. Believe and trust He will bring you out. Victory comes from worshipping in private.
“So remember: it’s not how you start; it’s how you finish.”