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YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Nile C. Kinnick coach Gary Wilson couldn’t help but smile as he watched Channing Meyer lead his offense downfield with time winding down in the first half.

It wasn’t so much Meyer going 5-for-7 for 74 yards on a 79-yard, 10-play drive in 2 minutes, 22 seconds. It wasn’t Meyer’s 38-yard touchdown pass to Francisco Quiocho. It was the poise that the freshman quarterback displayed, Wilson said.

"He’s pretty special," Wilson said of Meyer, who also tossed a 7-yard touchdown pass to John Allen and ran for a score, all in the first half. "He really saved the day on that last drive. He looked like a seasoned veteran."

The Red Devils’ defense did the rest, holding off two late drives as Kinnick beat Kubasaki of Okinawa 19-16 in an interarea game Saturday at Yokosuka’s Berkey Field in the first meeting between the schools.

Entering the game, the teams were winless in a combined eight games. Kinnick, Wilson said, has come a long way from the team that lost its first two games 55-6 to Yokota and 51-0 at Edgren. "It’s getting closer," he said.

Wilson credited the victory to a team effort. Meyer finished 7-for-13 for 91 yards. Tailback Elijah Gamble ran 26 times for 167 yards and had 290 combined yards. Nick White batted down three passes and had 2½ sacks. Jeff Gibbons had a fumble recovery and half a sack.

"Gamble made some great plays on both sides of the ball," Wilson said. "And that was a breakout game for Nick."

But the play of Meyer, who began the season on the junior varsity squad, stood out. I like what I’m seeing from him," Wilson said. "Too bad he’s not going to be here next year."

Kinnick went up 13-0 on its first two possessions. Kubasaki slashed the lead to 13-8 on Josh Bales’ 8-yard touchdown run and P.J. Varner’s two-point run. Mateo Sanchez sneaked over the goal line from 2 yards out and Bales ran in the two-pointer to close the scoring on the second half’s first possession.

Bales, like Gamble a diminutive workhorse, had 164 yards on 30 carries in a game that was at times testy, mainly in the second half, when the teams combined for five personal/unsportsmanlike conduct fouls.

Kubasaki had two late chances to win the game, but turned the ball over on downs at the Kinnick 8 with 7:36 left, then fumbled it away at the Red Devils 12 in the waning moments.

"We made too many mistakes," Dragons coach Fred Bales said. "We forgot to play the first 10 minutes and spotted them a 13-point lead."

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