Mark Rocamontes and the Yokota defense and the touchdown-happy arm of Darone Frierson ensured the third meeting between the Warriors and Misawa wouldn’t be nearly as close as the first two.
Frierson tossed two touchdown passes each to Robert Harris Jr. and Darryl Mosby, while Rocamontes returned an interception for a touchdown and set up the final TD with a fumble recovery as Yokota grounded the Jets 39-6 on Saturday at Yokota High School’s Bonk Field.
The win gave the Warriors the North Division title and put Yokota in the U.S. Forces Japan-American Football League’s Torii Bowl title game for the third time in four years. The teams had met twice in the regular season, with Yokota winning by a combined nine points.
“Once ‘Rock’ made that interception return, that put everybody at ease,” coach Selwyn Jones said, adding that it fired up offensive linemen Ernie Carrasco, John Devine and Tony Higgs. “The defense always comes to play. But those guys really came to play today.”
The line helped Frierson go an economic 8-for-15 for 59 yards, including TD tosses of 11 and 19 to Mosby and 12 and 7 to Harris. Running backs Kevin Fortin, Anthony McNeill and Kevin Peoples combined to run 38 times for 202 yards, most of which kept drives alive.
And whenever Misawa seemed inclined to make a comeback, one defender or another would come up with a takeaway. Jeremy Hazel and Braxton Gilkey each recovered fumbles, Shane Polk grabbed his sixth interception of the season and Chris Ekstrom and Joe Stevens each had picks for Yokota.
As a result, Yokota scored 26 second-quarter points, out of character for the Warriors, Jones said. “Normally, we’ve been a second-half team,” he said. “Today, we got those turnovers, we moved the ball, we got momentum, got it clicking and finished what we started.”
Most of the second half was played with a running clock, according to the league’s mercy rule which kicks in when the lead reaches 30 points. Brian Childress scored the Jets’ lone touchdown to briefly force a regulation clock, then Mosby’s second TD catch sealed the deal.
“Take your pick” as to what went wrong for the Jets, coach Jeremy Sanders said. Despite having a good practice week, “we came out flat. That’s the luck of the draw sometimes. We played a better second half, but in the first half, we lost our focus and couldn’t get it back.”
Yokota outgained Misawa 258-83. Stevens had five returns for 68 yards and Lee Sinclair celebrated his last game in Warriors uniform with a sack. Misawa’s Justin Stabler had four returns for 165 yards, Omar Williams and Shawn Waltzwick each recovered fumbles and Aaron Bradley blocked a punt for the Jets.
Yokota will battle defending champion Camp Foster for the Torii Bowl title Aug. 4 at Kubasaki High School’s Mike Petty Stadium.