Zama tops Edgren again to grab top seed
CAMP ZAMA, Japan – Two victories down. One to go. And the next one is for all the marbles, with Zama American set to host Robert D. Edgren for the Far East Division II football title.
Andre Encarnacion and Mitchell Harrison combined for five of the Trojans’ six touchdowns as Zama pulled away in the second half from Robert D. Edgren for a 40-17 victory on Friday at newly dedicated Barry Huitema Field.
Zama (5-4 overall, 4-0 D-II) swept the season series from the Eagles (2-6, 2-2). The two teams had already clinched berths in the Nov. 10 D-II title game; it was a question of which would host it, and Zama outscored Edgren 80-43 in their two meetings. Edgren has lost three straight games.
“It’s always great to be in championship games and even better when you host,” said Steven Merrell, coach of a Zama team that has reached its fourth D-II championship game; the Trojans beat Daegu 46-38 in 2009.
Merrell on Friday made it a point to substitute liberally to keep fresh legs in the game, resulting in what he called a “total team effort.”
“Guys rotated in and out of the lineup and contributed on both sides of the ball, and that’s what made it so awesome,” Merrell said.
Encarnacion rushed for 177 yards on 14 attempts and his three touchdowns gave him seven against Edgren this season. Encarnacion has 1,066 yards this season, 82 short of Pacific leader Jarrett Mitchell of Kubasaki, but leads the Pacific with 13 touchdowns.
A defense that helped Zama outgain Edgren 337-182 in yards forced five turnovers, including two fumble recoveries by Michael Patterson.
Tyrone Bacalso caught two first-half touchdown passes, giving him six this season against Zama, and Chris Finco booted a field goal, keeping Edgren close at halftime, trailing 26-17, before the Trojans pulled away in the second half. Khalil Williams had 115 all-purpose yards for the Eagles.
“Good thing there’s a third game,” Eagles coach Blaine Miller said. “We did everything we wanted to game plan-wise, but we didn’t take care of the football. It’s been our nemesis all season.”
Despite the one-sided margin, Merrell refused to consider a victory in the title game automatic.
“Just because we beat them twice, that only means we get to host” the championship, he said. “It’s going to be a battle. They’re a dangerous team. They can strike quick.”
Edgren is off until the title game. Zama visits American School In Japan on Nov. 2 in its final regular-season game.