USFJ-AFL final regular-season week, playoff opener
Published: July 11, 2010
Darone Frierson could very well be leading the U.S. Forces Japan-American Football League in touchdown passes; he tossed two more in Saturday's North Division playoff opener, giving him 10 for the season, one behind league-leader Frank Bryant of defending champion Foster.
But that's because Travis Heywood, with four TD passes in the last three games, is giving airtime to the football just as well as Frierson is. The QB pair each threw two scoring strikes as their Misawa Jets scored 28 unanswered points in a 36-8 romp Saturday over Yokosuka.
Three wins for the Jets in their last four games. Sounds like Saturday's North title game pitting Misawa at Yokota, a 4 p.m. kickoff, should be an interesting one.
OK, so the Warriors beat the Jets 22-8 the last time the teams met at Yokota last month; these are the playoffs, and the whole mindset and skills sets are different.
Keep in mind, Yokota has lost two of its last three games after a 3-0 start, and the Warriors' key running backs, Willie Brown and Kevin Fortin, might be game-time decisions, if not question marks.
Speaking of running backs, anybody notice the production of one Emanuel Griffin of Kadena lately?
He torched Yokota for 184 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries (288 all-purpose yards) in the Dragons' 40-28 win over Yokota. The next game, a 14-0 loss to Joint Task Force, didn't go as well, but Griffin led both sides with 69 yards on 13 carries.
Griffin didn't score in his last game, either, but ran for 132 yards on 15 carries as the Dragons avenged the shutout loss to JTF, edging the Wolfpack 18-14 to throw the race for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs into chaos (more on that in a succeeding post).
That sort of makes Kadena's line an irresistible force and Griffin the guy to watch as the South playoffs begin Thursday at Camp McTureous, with JTF and Kadena meeting for the third straight week. I mean, 385 yards on 42 carries in three games?
"No Dre, no win," Dragons coach Will Cupp said after Saturday's upset of JTF. He spoke of Andre Warren, his three-way star who caught a touchdown pass and ran back an interception for a score: 174 combined yards and two touchdowns on three touches.
No doubt, JTF would love to have three plays back: 1) the pass on second-and-6 at Kadena's 16 that Warren ran back for the touchdowns, 2) going for it on fourth-and-1 at the Wolfpack's 35 with just over three minutes left, and gaining nothing; and 3) the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the next play, a Griffin run for no yards, that advanced Kadena to the JTF 20. Two plays later, Tim Lawson rambled 18 yards for the game-winning touchdown.
Once more, a good effort by Kadena's defense, which held the Wolfpack to 183 yards, racked up four sacks and a fumble recovery and interception.