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KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — In a tight defensive battle, Kubasaki’s offense did just enough to win, with Tyshon Butler’s late scoring run providing the difference.

The senior running back burst over from 3 yards out with 2 minutes, 7 seconds - set up by his own 27-yard run - and the Dragons won their Division I season-opening game 12-6 over Kadena.

“A typical first game of the season,” Dragons coach Fred Bales said, adding that his offense appeared “herky jerky,” making some mistakes with illegal procedure penalties and the like.

“On both sides of the ball, it was a very tough game. We got out of there with the win, but that’s a very tough Kadena team.”

For the Panthers’ part, taking care of the football and finishing drives proved to be issues. Three times, Kadena had the ball first-and-goal, and three times the Panthers fumbled the ball away; all told, the Panthers fumbled six times and lost five.

“Our defense played well, our offense played well; it’s a matter of finishing,” Panthers coach Sergio Mendoza said. “We moved the ball with ease and sputtered on the goal line three times.”

The Panthers finally broke onto the scoreboard with nine minutes left, with Barry Mitchell plunging over on a quarterback sneak. Joe Cervantes put the Dragons ahead in the first half with a 68-yard touchdown pass to Winston Maxwell.

It’s the first of three regular-season meetings between the teams. They face off again at Kubasaki on Sept. 13, then play again at a site to be determined Oct. 25.

Kubasaki has won the last two Okinawa championships and lost the D-I championship games at Yokota the last two years. Kadena is trying for its first island championship since last winning that and the Far East D-I title in 2010.

Next up for the two teams are Sept. 7 visits to Korea: Kadena travels to Seoul American for a non-D-I contest, with kickoff at 2 p.m., while Kubasaki plays at Daegu at 6 p.m.

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