CAMP ZAMA, Japan – Trailing by 11 points at halftime, Nile C. Kinnick used a healthy dose of fumble recoveries and kick returns to turn Friday’s rainy Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools/DODDS Japan football season opener on its head.

Quinton Holden rushed for three touchdowns, Dustin Kimbrell ran for a TD and amassed 231 all-purpose yards, Akish Davis scored a rushing TD and ran a kick 60 yards for another and the Red Devils used seven takeaways to rally from an 18-7 hole for a 39-26 victory.

“Ebbs and flows,” Kinnick second-year coach Dan Joley said after avenging last season’s 32-8 opening loss on the same field. “The youth showed in the first half, then we scored four unanswered (touchdowns). Absolutely proud; I’ve not been this proud of a team in a very, very long time.”

It was the most points the Red Devils scored since their last victory over Zama, 45-31, on Oct. 24, 2008. They’d not beaten the Trojans at Zama since a 26-13 triumph Sept. 22, 2008.

“From where they started, with all their youth and inexperience, is amazing,” Joley said. “They learned how to win a football game.”

At the outset, it looked as if Zama would make it five straight wins over Kinnick.

After Holden put the Red Devils ahead 7-0 on their first possession, the Trojans roared back on Mitchell Harrison’s 14-yard scoring run and James Liker’s TD passes of 5 yards to Max Huzau and 4 yards to Andre Encarnaction to put Zama up 18-7. It stayed that way into halftime.

But the game turned for good on Kimbrell’s 73-yard kick return to open the second half. That set the stage for Holden’s TD runs of 1 and 50 yards on consecutive possessions. Davis then ran 19 yards for a touchdown and added his kick-return TD.

“That opening kick in the second half hurt us, it put us in the dumps,” Zama assistant coach Mark Millington said. “Holding onto the football was the big problem. The turnovers were crucial.”

Encarnacion had 100 yards on 15 carries and Harrison 63 on 11, while Liker accounted for 78 yards of offense for Zama. Encarnacion added a sack and forced a fumble, Roland Cote recovered two fumbles and David Coleman had the game’s lone interception.

Kimbrell added a 35-yard touchdown run to cap the scoring, finishing with 72 yards on 13 carries and 159 yards on two returns. David Sledge recovered three fumbles for Kinnick, which had seven total.

The victory came at a high price for the Red Devils, who lost receiver-defensive back-kicker Marcus Boehler with a dislocated right shoulder.

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Dave Ornauer has been employed by or assigned to Stars and Stripes Pacific almost continuously since March 5, 1981. He covers interservice and high school sports at DODEA-Pacific schools and manages the Pacific Storm Tracker.

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