Ground game, defense help Kubasaki rout Kinnick
October 16, 2010
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa – Thanks to the play of senior running back Deon Lewis and rookie defensive end Jariah Tolbert, Kubasaki ended a five-season Far East Division I football playoff drought Saturday.
Lewis ran for 178 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries, while Tolbert recorded three sacks and an interception as the Dragons pummeled Nile C. Kinnick of Japan, 37-6, at in the first-of-its-kind play-in game for Japan’s and Okinawa’s Division I runner-up teams.
The win bumped Kubasaki into the playoffs for the first time since winning the Division I title in 2005.
“It certainly feels better than the last four years,” coach Fred Bales said, adding that after back-to-back 56-16 and 44-0 losses to defending Division I champion Kadena, the Dragons played Saturday with “more discipline, more passion and we’re back on the good foot.”
DODDS Pacific added the play-in game to the Far East activities calendar last spring to ensure that all teams qualify for the Division I playoffs, instead of automatic bids being granted to Seoul American and Guam High.
Seoul American initially was to play at Kinnick and Guam High at Kubasaki on Saturday; however, due to conflicts with its Interscholastic Football League playoff schedule, Guam High chose to bow out of the DODDS playoffs at least for this season.
Instead, Seoul American again qualified automatically and Kubasaki battled Kinnick for the fourth playoff spot. The Division I semifinals pit host Kubasaki against DODDS Japan champion Yokota and Kadena against Seoul American on Nov. 6. The title game is on Nov. 12.
Tolbert was one of a handful of junior varsity players added to the Dragons’ roster last week, in which practice resembled open competition for roster spots. The JV season ended Oct. 8.
“We knew we had some playmakers, some athletes on the JV team, so we brought them up to see what they could do,” Bales said. “We spent the week competing for slots and opened up our roster and it paid off.”
Tolbert paid immediate dividends with his sacks and interception; he spearheaded a defense that recorded six sacks and three takeaways. “He’s a gifted athlete. He’s a young talent,” Bales said of Tolbert.
Lewis notched touchdown runs of 6 and 14 yards, Cristian Rivera hit Brandon Crawford for a 15-yard TD pass and A.J. Watson ran 11 yards for a score as the Dragons raced to a 30-0 halftime lead. Lewis capped the scoring with a 5-yard, fourth-quarter TD run. Rivera was 10-for-13 passing for 69 yards.
Though the Red Devils (2-5) matched Kubasaki’s second-half touchdown total, “we dug ourselves a hole early in the first half and we just couldn’t recover,” Kinnick coach Dan Joley said. “A couple of big defensive breakdowns and turnovers. It’s just hard to fight back.”
Quinton Holden broke the shutout with a 1-yard third-quarter TD run. He was 7-for-12 passing for 126 yards, while Dustin Kimbrell had 236 all-purpose yards on 27 touches.