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MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — They played after all.

Just when it appeared as if defending champion Yokosuka couldn’t secure transportation for its game at Misawa, the Seahawks at the last minute scarfed up a few rental vans and took 17 players north to visit the Jets.

But the reigning U.S. Forces Japan-American Football League champions came away from the game empty on Saturday, losing 28-0 to the Jets and quarterback Andre Rice, who threw three first-half touchdown passes.

"We put a lot of effort into our practice and concentrated on moving the football," Jets coach Jeremy Sanders said.

As a result, Rice (9-for-16, 141 yards) tossed touchdown passes of 50 yards to Lorenzo Bookhart, 45 to Justin Jordan and 12 to Darone Friarson in the first half. Leroy Moody’s 5-yard fourth-quarter TD run capped the scoring.

Sanders’ assistant coaches tightened up Misawa’s blocking schemes and got a huge game from tailback Reid Meriwether (14 carries, 98 yards).

"That made the difference," Sanders said. "Good speed, good vision. He ran really strong."

The victory helped the Jets surge into a first-place tie at 2-1 with the Seahawks. Their rubber match, which will likely decide the regular-season championship and host rights for the league championship Torii Bowl, is slated for Aug. 9 at Misawa.

Saturday’s game nearly didn’t take place. Air transportation for the Seahawks to Misawa fell through. Only at the last minute did Yokosuka round up rental vans and players to make the trip. The players shelled out about $1,500 for the trip, assistant coach James Price said.

Despite the loss, "It was worth it to play," Price said. "We didn’t want to forfeit. We didn’t want to postpone it. We hadn’t played in awhile. Playing helps make the league strong."

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