YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — It wasn’t the way the Nile C. Kinnick Red Devils had envisioned giving coach Matt Martinez a victory in his last home game.

Larynzo Abernathy scored his sixth and seventh touchdowns of the season, on runs of 5 yards in the first quarter and 8 in the fourth, the latter breaking an 8-8 tie and leading Kinnick past Zama American 16-8 on Friday at Yokosuka’s Berkey Field.

The victory came four days after Martinez broke the news to the team that he was accepting a transfer to be assistant principal at Lakenheath High School in England.

“I don’t think the announcement affected their play,” Martinez said.

“We didn’t play a very good football game. We were flat. We were lucky to beat Zama and I’m sure our staff and players feel the same way.”

Kinnick improved to 2-1 and moved into a virtual tie for first in the DODDS-Japan League with seven-time defending champion Yokota (1-0), and 1-1 in the Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools, a game behind Yokota (2-0). The Trojans fell to 1-1 in the JFL and 0-1 in their Kanto season opener.

Martinez, leaving in early October, said he didn’t put much stock in it being his final home game after five years as defensive coordinator and three games this season as head coach.

“You play as a team, you win as a team, you lose as a team,” he said. “We just didn’t play a good game.”

Still, he did allow himself a moment of reminiscence after the game ended.

“It was emotional for me at the start, then once the game started it was old hat, then again it was emotional as the final whistle blew. It’s been a joy the whole time. But I’m more proud of the kids for sticking it out.”

Abernathy paced the Red Devils with 171 yards on 28 carries, giving him 74 rushes for 466 yards this season. Quarterback Jeff Galang was harrassed all evening by the Trojans’ rush, going only 3-for-8 for 31 yards. Ian Vasquez had a team-leading seven tackles and one of two Kinnick fumble recoveries; T.J. Jones had the other.

Abernathy put Kinnick up 8-0 in the first quarter on a 5-yard run and a two-point conversion. Zama answered on Aaron Tabor’s 4-yard burst in the third quarter and Quenton Howard’s two-point conversion sweep.

It appeared as though the Trojans had squelched a late Kinnick possession with an interception by Darius Graves, and overtime seemed imminent. But the play was negated on a pass interference call, setting up Abernathy’s game-winning TD run and two-point conversion.

Despite the defeat, Zama coach Victor Rivera expressed pride in his charges for hanging in until the final whistle.

“Bottom line, this is an improved team,” Rivera said. “We made a couple of critical mistakes … but I’m proud of the boys.”

Pacific football scoreboard

Pacific football scoreboard

DODDS-Japan Football League

W L Pct. PF PA

Yokota 1 0 1.000 21 12

Nile C. Kinnick 2 1 .667 70 48

Zama American 1 1 .500 15 22

Robert D. Edgren 0 2 .000 25 49

Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools

W L Pct. PF PA

Yokota 2 0 1.000 65 12

Nile C. Kinnick 1 1 .500 28 29

Zama American 0 1 .000 8 16

American School In Japan 0 1 .000 0 44

Friday’s games

Nile C. Kinnick 16, Zama American 8

Saturday’s games

ASIJ at Edgren, 1 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 23

Edgren at Yokota, 1 p.m.

Kinnick at ASIJ, 1 p.m.


W L Pct. PF PA

George Washington 1 0 1.000 54 0

Simon Sanchez 1 0 1.000 14 0

Guam High 1 0 1.000 14 7

John F. Kennedy 1 1 .500 29 28

Father Duenas Memorial 0 1 .000 7 14

Southern 0 2 .000 14 83

Friday’s game

John F. Kennedy 29, Southern 14

Saturday’s games

George Washington vs. Guam High at Andersen Air Force Base, 6 p.m.

Father Duenas vs. Simon Sanchez at John F. Kennedy High School, Upper Tumon, 7 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 22

George Washington at John F. Kennedy, 7 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 23

Father Duenas at Southern, 10 a.m.

Simon Sanchez vs. Guam High at Ramsey Field, John F. Kennedy High School, Upper Tumon, 7 p.m.

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