NAVAL AIR STATION SIGONELLA, Sicily - Senior Ramon Quijano ran the second-half kickoff back 95 yards for a touchdown Saturday to allow the visiting Rota Admirals shake off their first-half cobwebs and romp to a 42-0 season-opening victory over the Sigonella Jaguars.
Sigonella, forced by personnel shortages to suspend its 2011 season after just two games, served notice it is back by holding the defending European D-III champions to just six first-half points. Collin Gantt, who made a team-high 15 tackles, and Ford Shugai each recovered a Rota fumble in the first half for two of Sigonella’s stops against Rota’s ground-gobbling triple-option offense.
After halftime, however, Rota, buoyed by Quijano’s TD return, began running more counter plays and option sweeps, according to Sigonella coach Matt McKown, and broke the game open for its eighth straight victory. The Admirals went 7-0 last season en route to the European Division III crown.
Quijano finished with a game-high 215 yards; his teammate K.C. Mason rushed for 145 yards and a TD. Sophomore Jonas Camacho ran for two touchdowns.
Eli Lagger and Antonio Garcia each made nine tackles for Sigonella.
“After ending the season early last year, I wasn’t sure what kind of effect that would have on this team,” McKown concluded. “But after the first quarter I could see we have football back at Sig. The boys gave all they had against a much faster and better-conditioned team.”
Next up for Sigonella is a trip to Baumholder on Saturday; Rota hosts Alconbury on Friday night.