Daegu gets key D-II win over Edgren
Daegu Torian James and Robert D. Edgren Izzy Leon battle for the ball during Saturday's DODDS Pacific Far East Division II qualifying game at Misawa Air Base, Japan. Daegu edged Edgren 14-13 and needs only to beat defending champion Zama American at home on Sept. 28 to host the D-II title game.
Stars and Stripes
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan – Often overlooked in a football team’s game plan, special teams play proved crucial as Daegu took the first step Saturday to a return to the Far East Division II title game and avenged a home loss last season to Robert D. Edgren.
Caleb Page scored two-point conversion following Rahman Abdul-Azeez’s first-half touchdown, then the Warriors blocked a game-tying point-after kick in the fourth quarter to edge Edgren 14-13.
“My hat’s off to them,” Daegu coach Luke Spencer said of the Eagles. “They played good defense against us. They came out and played a heckuva football game. It was a tough, really physical game.”
“Daegu’s got a system, their players are tapped into that system, they do what they do,” Eagles coach Blaine Miller said. “We were right in the game. We gave them more chances than they had.”
The Warriors (1-2) now need to win their home contest Sept. 28 against defending D-II champion Zama American to earn host rights to this year’s contest scheduled for Nov. 9. Edgren (0-3) must beat Zama twice and hope Daegu can down the Trojans to host.
Spencer said the Warriors have their eyes more on that prize than on avenging their 30-8 loss last Sept. 29 at Camp Walker’s Kelly Field.
“We were focusing not about revenge or payback,” he said. “This was about execution and getting into the D-II final. We closed out a game. You want to score more points, but a win is big, a win on the road is even bigger and to get to the D-II playoff is best of all.”
Page rushed nine times for 104 yards, while Abdul-Azeez added 85 yards on 15 carries, including three runs of 20 yards or more. Carl Pastor scored what proved to be the game-winning touchdown in the third quarter.
Edgren countered with a 45-yard interception-return touchdown by Baeden Harrison off a screen-pass attempt by Daegu in the first half, and a 35-yard touchdown pass from Khaleem Shabazz to Tyrone Bacalso in the fourth quarter.
The Eagles had one more chance in the final minute after Daegu gave up the ball on downs, but Edgren could not cash in.
“Now we have to take the longer road,” Miller said. “We’ve got to strap up, come to practice on Monday and get back out on the field.”
Each team has the week off prior to Daegu’s battle with Zama. Edgren hosts Kubasaki the same evening in the first meeting between the two schools.