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TOKYO – Hayden Jardine provided the points for American School In Japan. The Mustangs’ defense did the rest on Friday, handing Yokota its third defeat at Mustang Valley in as many seasons.

Jardine hit Charlie Seno for a 23-yard first-quarter touchdown pass and ran 15 yards for a TD in the third quarter and ASIJ held off a late Yokota drive as time ran out on a 13-9 victory that tightened the Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools race.

Yokota (4-1) is 3-1 in Kanto, a half-game ahead of the Mustangs (3-1, 2-1); the Panthers have two Kanto games left and ASIJ has three. If the two teams win out, they’ll share the Kanto title at 5-1. ASIJ won the Kanto crown in 2009 and Yokota took it a year ago.

“Our defense played the best game we’ve played in a couple of years,” ASIJ coach Craig Karnitz said.

Chewed up for 380 yards and five touchdowns on 46 carries in a 41-20 loss at Yokota two weeks earlier, the Mustangs defense bent, allowing 331 yards on 43 attempts, but didn’t break Friday, allowing only Tre Bailey’s 40-yard fourth-quarter run and a Lee Twyman field goal.

“We stopped their counters, their bootlegs and we kept them out of the end zone,” Karnitz said.

It was a matter of not taking advantage of their opportunities inside ASIJ’s 20-yard line, Yokota coach Tim Pujol said.

“We put up some pretty big numbers, but we were pretty bad in the red zone; we didn’t finish well,” Pujol said.

Karnitz and defensive coach John Seevers “prepared their boys well. Hayden was really sharp. They played with purpose. I’d say they did a better job of preparing their team than I did.”

The Mustangs spent much of the night putting 11 defenders up on the line against a Yokota team that hadn’t completed a pass all season until Friday.

Morgan Breazell extended his Pacific rushing lead over Zama American’s Andre Encarnacion, gaining 125 yards on 16 carries; he has 703 on 89 attempts this season. Bailey finished with 115 yards on 13 carries.

Yokota’s Ray Butler intercepted a Jardine pass in the second quarter and returned it 90 yards for a touchdown, but it was negated by a block in the back penalty. In the closing seconds, Yokota ran the ball inside the ASIJ 10, but didn’t get out of bounds with no timeouts left.

“Obviously, tonight showed us we have some things to work on,” Pujol said.

Yokota next hosts Zama American, while ASIJ entertains Robert D. Edgren on Friday.

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