Kadena closes in on first place after throttling weary Misawa
August 15, 2003
CAMP COURTNEY, Okinawa — The Courtney Bowl remained a hostile venue for U.S. Forces Japan-American Football League teams traveling from the mainland.
A.J. Hickman threw two touchdown passes and Kadena rushed for 228 yards and two scores as the Dragons pounded the Misawa Marauders 26-6 Wednesday, a night after Courtney-Hansen beat visiting Yokota 10-0.
“The offensive line came out strong, controlled the line of scrimmage, pushed people around and moved the ball,” said Kevin Mattix, who served as Kadena’s head coach.
Glen Ballard was in the United States enrolling his son, Jason, a former two-way prep standout at Kubasaki, in college.
Hickman (6-for-12 for 90 yards) threw a 21-yard TD pass to James Francis at the end of the third quarter and capped the scoring with a 12-yard strike to Tarrick Jackson with 1:16 left. Trent Beavers ran 45 yards for a score and Kareem Eubanks had a 9-yard touchdown run in the first half.
Beavers had 126 all-purpose yards on eight touches, while Hickman added 105 yards on 14 plays. Shawn Patterson had a fumble recovery and sack for the Kadena defense, which recorded two sacks and forced three turnovers.
The victory gave the Dragons (4-2) sole possession of second place, a half-game behind three-time defending champion Yokosuka (4-1). They’re in the driver’s seat to host a first-round playoff game Sept. 13 against the third-place team.
The Marauders (3-2) fell into a third-place tie with Atsugi, though Misawa holds the tiebreaker after outscoring the White Dolphins by 16 points in their two encounters.
The Marauders, who fielded 26 players to Kadena’s 20, refused to blame the island heat, an environment 20 degrees warmer than Misawa Air Base this time of year, their four-hour flight to Okinawa on Wednesday morning or the uncertainty of billeting at Kadena Air Base.
“We simply got outplayed,” said Misawa coach John Hemphill, who learned after the game that billeting had been secured for his team. “When you play Kadena, they come at you wide-open, with speed, heart and a desire to play, which they did tonight.”
“No excuses. We came out half-hearted. We should have left it all on the field,” added wide receiver Terry Lang, who scored Misawa’s TD on a 60-yard third-quarter reverse.
Lang finished with 104 all-purpose yards on three touches. The Marauders forced four turnovers but were outgained 307-142.
The loss severely damaged Misawa’s shot to win the regular-season title, gain a first-round playoff bye and a chance to host the league championship game on Sept. 20.
“The buzzer didn’t ring,” Hemphill said. “It’s not over. We have to press on. Our chances are still good. We’re still in this thing. When the championship game is played, Misawa will be in it.”