Wheelchair Football Jets Knock Off Giants, 21-14
On a chilly overcast late November morning, the United Spinal Association Jets wheelchair football team traded touchdowns and extra points in a "nail biter" with the United Spinal Association Giants until, with less than two minutes to play in the game, an interception by the Jets' Bill Hannigan led to a precision-like march downfield and a Jets 21-14 triumph.
Jason Soricelli of the Jets and the Giants' Joe Mendez each caught touchdown passes in the first half, which ended in a 7-7 tie. The Giants pulled ahead in the second half with Mendez' second touchdown grab of the contest, but the Jets moved down the field methodically in a five-minute drive culminating in a touchdown reception by the Jets' Hannigan that tied the game at 14-14. Minutes later, Hannigan, who was named the game's Most Valuable Player, snared his critical interception and Soricelli caught the game-winning touchdown pass with just 30 seconds remaining.
This first-ever local wheelchair football game was played at Diamond in the Pines in Brookhaven, Long Island. The Jackson Heights-based United Spinal Association administers both teams, who enjoy sponsorship and support of the New York Giants and New York Jets National Football League franchises.
Wheelchair football is adapted from flag football. There are six players on each team, and the asphalt field is 80 yards long and 22 yards wide, with first down marker lines every 15 yards. Each game is 40 minutes in length, with two 20-minute halves separated by a five-minute halftime. A one-hand touch above the waist, including the arm and hand, constitutes a tackle. A touchdown scores six points, and extra points can be scored in two ways, two points for running the ball or one point for passing it successfully into the end zone. All National Football League penalty rules apply to wheelchair football.
United Spinal Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for all Americans with spinal cord injuries or disorders. For more than 60 years, the association has fought for veteran's rights and for the rights of all individuals with disabilities. For more information, visit www.unitedspinal.org or call 800-404- 2898.