Zama trick play, blocked PAT too much for Yokota
Stars and Stripes
NAVAL AIR FACILITY ATSUGI, Japan – The play was called “double-pass option,” and Friday it led to Zama American’s biggest DODDS Japan football victory in four seasons.
Raymond Bestor took a lateral pass from quarterback Nick Zeagler, then rifled an option pass to Gabriel Brumage for a 29-yard touchdown that put the Trojans ahead to stay in a 21-20 victory over Yokota at Atsugi’s newly field-turfed Reid Memorial Stadium.
It was the Trojans’ first victory over Yokota, the reigning two-time Far East Division I champion, since nearly four years ago, when they won their first Far East Division II football banner.
Zama (1-1) last beat the Panthers 33-6 at home on Oct. 2, 2009. It snapped a six-game, three-season losing streak to Yokota.
“It’s always good to get your first win of the season, but it’s especially thrilling to win over an established program,” coach Steven Merrell said. “They’ll keep plugging away. Yokota’s a good team. They’ll be back in business.”
The outcome evened each team’s DODDS Japan records at 1-1. Zama is 1-1 in the Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools, while Yokota lost its Kanto opener.
The Panthers went up early 14-0 on two J.J. Henderson runs - giving him five on the season - and looked primed to make it back-to-back wins over DODDS Japan Division II programs; they beat Robert D. Edgren 54-6 at home a week earlier.
But the Trojans changed the script, as Chris Reynolds - who rushed for 124 yards on 26 carries - ran 2 yards for one score, then Hiro Beale 4 yards for another before Brumage’s game-winning catch.
Yokota scored in the fourth quarter on a pass from Marcus Henderson to A.J. Leake to get within one point, but Noah Macias’ game-tying extra-point try was blocked by Zama sophomore lineman Kevin Gross.
“That was a huge play, that was a big deal right there,” Merrell said.
Yokota had a couple of more chances, but the Trojans defense was equal to the task, Merrell said.
“We knew we weren’t out of it,” he said. “I was really proud of our efforts on defense in the fourth quarter, even when they (Panthers) kept challenging.”
The Trojans visit American School In Japan for the Mustangs’ opener on Friday; kickoff is 7 p.m. Meanwhile, Yokota travels to Nile C. Kinnick, which is seeking to snap a 28-game, 14-season losing streak to the Panthers; they’ve not beaten Yokota since a 28-0 win on Oct. 16, 1998.