Players wore names like Killer, Rocky and Spaz on their jerseys. Cheerleaders in combat boots shouted through orange pylons and waved pink paper pompons. Spectators stacked their rifles and gas masks to do the wave.
This was Sunday afternoon football with a twist: The players were women.A team of Marines called the Wrecking Crew toppled the Desert Foxes, from U.S. Navy Fleet Hospital No. 5, 20-13 in front of adoring troops who roared, howled, barked and booed the referees, naturally.
"It's a change of pace. Everyone was able to blow off a little steam," said Marine Cpl. Carrie Cripps, 21, of Fort Smith, Ark. A middle linebacker, she is also known as Rocky.
The Desert Foxes were weary and dirty but far from discouraged because they stayed within a touchdown of the women Marines. The Foxes had practiced only eight times before, all on an asphalt parking lot.
"We're all nurses. We didn't know the first thing about football. I thought we were going to get trounced," said Lt. Cmdr. Raelene Hoogendorn of McDonald, Pa. Also known as Killer, she works in casualty receiving.
This wasn't the NFL, but it was the closest thing available in Saudi Arabia. The game is called flag football, a version of touch, although there were more than a few tackles and there was some crisp blocking. Players traded high-five handshakes and spiked the ball on touchdown receptions.
The game was played on a sand field that the Marines call the Scud Bowl, although this one was billed as the Turkey Bowl as part of Thanksgiving weekend.
Armed Forces Radio did a play-by-play. Several hundred Marines watched from the sidelines, some sitting on their sleeping cots or under tent flaps. They munched on popcorn, pretzels and crackers.
All in all, it was a pleasant afternoon for service members who have been training in this parched land for nearly four months.
"Nobody's in their tents. It breaks the monotony," said Gunnery Sgt. Eugene Bradley, 33, of Dallas. "It's something to do on a Sunday. Tomorrow we go back to work, back to the old grind. Boy, look at those linebackers!"