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Big plays have been a blessing for the Yokota football team in this season.

Never was that more evident than in Friday’s 33-13 triumph at Zama American — a victory that extended the Panthers’ (4-0) regular-season winning streak to 36 games.

With the Trojans driving deep into Yokota territory at Camp Zama, Japan, Kory Campbell returned a fumble 88 yards for a touchdown that gave the Panthers a 26-7 lead with 10 minutes remaining in the game.

Coach Tim Pujol called Campbell’s play “critical.” Zama was inside Yokota’s 10 when a hard hit popped the ball loose and into his hands.

“It happened at the right time for us,” Pujol said.

Said Trojans coach Victor Rivera: “That broke our back.”

Campbell’s big play mirrored Anthony McNeill’s 66-yard fumble-return touchdown, which gave Yokota the lead for good in its season-opening 21-12 victory Sept. 1 at Nile C. Kinnick. On Sept. 16, Patrick Pamintuan returned the second-half kickoff 92 yards in a 26-7 victory at Robert D. Edgren. All three of the big plays have come on the road.

“We keep preaching the mantra, ‘Somebody make the big play,’” Pujol said. “What a huge difference it was between being ahead by just six” had Zama scored a touchdown “and being ahead by 19 points. That solidified things for us.”

Yokota has a one-game lead in the Japan Football League and Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools at 3-0. Kinnick (3-1) sits in second place at 2-1 in each league. Zama (1-3) fell to 1-2 in the JFL and 0-2 in Kanto.

McNeill took command of the JFL rushing race, gaining 202 yards on 23 carries. He added touchdown rus of 1, 7 and 73 yards. He finished the game with 289 all-purpose yards plus an interception, giving him 816 yards and nine TDs on 105 carries in four games this season.

McNeill is 207 yards ahead of Kinnick’s Larynzo Abernathy.

Pamintuan added 101 yards on 16 carries and one reception for 18 yards. Peter Weaver went 4-for-5 for 67 yards, including a 12-yard TD pass to Caiveon Thomas, who had a pair of receptions for 47 yards.

All of that helped the Panthers keep at arm’s length a Trojans rushing offense that stepped out of character, away from its customary power wishbone into a single-wing attack that used misdirection and diversity to generate a touchdown in each the second and fourth quarters .

Quincy Howard ran a sweep 25 yards for a second-quarter touchdown and Kadeem Jones took a slot reverse 15 yards for a score in the final period.

“They mixed things well,” Pujol said. “We had to make some adjustments. … It was innovative. We’d never seen anything like that from them before.”

“Tip your hat to Pujol,” Rivera said. “They executed well and played hard and that wasn’t the defense that came to bat in the first two games.

“We were flat. We just did not bring it today. … We could have kept the game a lot closer. Penalties and mistakes killed us. … But I was proud of our kids. It wasn’t a 49-0 skunk.”

Pacific prep football

Pacific prep football

DODDS-Japan Football League

W L Pct. PF PA

Yokota 3 0 1.000 80 32

Nile C. Kinnick 2 1 .667 70 48

Zama American 1 2 .333 28 55

Robert D. Edgren 0 3 .000 32 75

Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools

W L Pct. PF PA

Yokota 3 0 1.000 98 25

Nile C. Kinnick 2 1 .667 62 43

Zama American 0 2 .000 21 49

American School In Japan 0 2 .000 14 78

Friday’s game

Yokota 33, Zama 13

Saturday’s game

Kinnick at Edgren, 10 a.m.

Friday, Oct. 6

ASIJ at Yokota, 7 p.m.

Zama at Edgren, 7 p.m.

Guam

W L Pct. PF PA

George Washington 3 0 1.000 158 12

Father Duenas Memorial 3 1 .750 109 35

Simon Sanchez 2 1 .667 48 58

Guam High 1 2 .333 38 87

John F. Kennedy 1 3 .250 42 100

Southern 0 3 .000 14 117

Friday’s game

Father Duenas 28, John F. Kennedy 7

Saturday’s games

Guam High at Southern, 10 a.m.

Simon Sanchez at Geo. Washington, 7 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 6

Father Duenas at Geo. Washington, 7 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 7

John F. Kennedy vs. Guam High at Naval Station “Big Navy,” 3 p.m.

Southern vs. Simon Sanchez at Ramsey Field, John F. Kennedy High School, Upper Tumon, 7 p.m.

End regular season/p>

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