By Wendy Sarubbi | April 29, 2011 1:45 pm

The competition began as pick-up games on the UCF College of Medicine Tavistock Green. But now, a flag football team boasting “the heart of 100 lions” is the champion.

The College of Medicine Shaikhers – M-1 students Andrew Bonett, Christopher Cooper, Eric Gelman and Mihail Stojanovski, and M-2s Jon Beilan and Rafik Zarifa – recently won the Comp B 4-on-4 Intramural Flag Football Championship by a score of 14-12. The Shaikhers, named in honor of Dr. Saad Shaikh, associate professor of Ophthalmology, beat a team called HAM, which included members of the Lambda Chi fraternity.

Defense was the key to the championship victory. With 53 seconds left, HAM threatened to take the lead, needing only a few yards for a touchdown and down by two points. Jon, the Shaikhers’ defensive ace, chased down the opposition’s quarterback, coming up with a much-needed sack. The offense then got a crucial first down to run out the clock and seal the victory.

The champions were cheered on by College of Medicine fans wearing their medical school t-shirts and carrying signs. Dean Deborah German was also in the crowd.

“The dean was there,” Andrew said. “We had to win. Losing was not an option.”

Comp B included 64 teams and the championship was a single-elimination tournament. The Shaikhers won their quarter-final game in double overtime and their semi-final game in triple overtime. Team members joked that they were competing against underclassmen – younger players who weren’t trying to succeed in medical school at the same time they were training for football.

“From the third game on, we were beginning to feel our age,” joked Eric. “But we said from the beginning of the season that we played with the heart of 100 lions, one for every student at the UCF College of Medicine.”

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