CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa – Faced with a six-point deficit entering the fourth quarter, Camp Hansen turned to a stingy defense to swing the momentum in Saturday’s battle with Kadena.
The result: Two fourth-quarter interceptions - one returned 70 yards for a touchdown by Christopher Jones and the other setting up a Daren Monk quarterback sneak two plays later - as the Wolfpack rallied to beat the Dragons 24-8 at Camp Hansen’s parade ground.
“Always moments like those, they’re game-changers,” Monk said. “The emotion changes. The heart changes. The fire is re-lit. Every game we play, it’s kept close because of our defense.”
Trailing 8-2 almost midway through the fourth period, the Wolfpack scored 22 unanswered points in a 3 minute, 52 second span, starting with Monk’s 45-yard scoring pass to Michael Frank.
The big game-changing play came on Kadena’s next possession. Facing fourth-and-2 at Hansen’s 27, the Wolfpack blitzed Dragons quarterback Matthew Fuller. He tossed a desperation pass that was tipped at the line by Hansen’s Uwan Williams into Jones’ hands – with nothing between him and the Kadena goal line but green grass.
“When I saw Jones got it, I was so relieved,” Williams said. “I was just hoping he made a big play.”
Williams himself followed with an interception at Kadena’s 5-yard line, setting up Monk’s short TD plunge to cap the scoring.
Defense also accounted for the game’s first 10 points. Jones and Norris Avery tackled Fuller in the end zone to open the second quarter for a safety. Reggie Mebane’s sack of Monk in the third quarter forced a fumble that Robert Bridgeman scooped and ran 15 yards for Kadena’s lone TD.
Despite the victory, Hansen (1-3 South) still finished last in the division, and travels to Kadena (2-2) for the first playoff round. Kickoff is at 2 p.m. Saturday at Kadena High School’s football field.
“Kadena is a great team,” Williams said. “I hope both teams bring it just as hard next week.”
Monk finished 7-for-23 for 161 yards. Avery had 4½ sacks, Jones had a sack in addition to his interception-return TD and Romeo McClarry picked off a pass for Hansen.
Kadena was missing six starters due to illness, injury or emergency leaves. “We came here with 19 guys; they played their hearts out,” Dragons coach Bob Friend said. “Nothing to be mad about.”
The loss wasted a 137-yard, 21-carry performance by Kadena’s Emanuel Griffin. Jason Sirmons had a fumble recovery and an interception for the Dragons, who were outgained 200-169 by the Wolfpack.