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As the race for the Japan Football League rushing title heats up, Anthony McNeill and Larynzo Abernathy are keeping their teams on a winning keel.

McNeill ran 24 times for 160 yards and two touchdowns as the Yokota Panthers won their home opener 26-7 over the Robert D. Edgren Eagles on Saturday.

The Panthers (2-0) are a half-game ahead of Kinnick (2-1) in the DODDS-Japan League. Edgren fell to 1-3, 1-2 in the Japan League.

Abernathy rushed for 143 yards on 21 carries plus three touchdowns Saturday as Kinnick (3-1) beat American School In Japan 34-14. The Red Devils, who have won three straight, improved to 2-1 in the Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools, a half-game behind Yokota (2-0).

McNeill has 614 yards and six touchdowns on 82 rushing attempts through three games, all Yokota victories. Abernathy has 609 yards and 10 touchdowns on 95 attempts in Kinnicks’ four games this season.

Guam High led Simon Sanchez 18-7 in the third quarter but Frank Fernandez scored two touchdowns in the final 18 minutes as the Sharks handed the Panthers (1-2) a 20-18 defeat at John F. Kennedy High School’s Ramsey Field in Upper Tumon.

Yokota 26, Edgren 7: At Yokota Air Base, Japan, McNeill rushed for touchdowns of 10 yards in the first quarter and 1 yard in the fourth. Patrick Pamintuan added 166 all-purpose yards, including a 92-yard TD return of the second-half kickoff, and Peter Weaver went 3-for-7 for 64 yards, including an 11-yard scoring pass to Caiveon Thomas.

Josh Ray’s 25-yard touchdown pass to Vaughn Junchaya in the fourth quarter accounted for the lone score for an Edgren team that Yokota coach Tim Pujol called “vastly improved.”

Yokota’s biggest worry was multi-purpose junior Zach Latimore, who had three return touchdowns in Edgren’s two previous games. But the Panthers held him to 108 all-purpose yards and no touchdowns.

“They moved him around, from tailback to tight end to split end. They appeared to be doing a Reggie Bush with him, trying to get the ball into his hands in different situations. He is a dangerous player,” Pujol said.

Yokota “did a good job of kicking the ball away from him,” Eagles coach Chris Waite said.

As a team, Edgren “played a great game,” Pujol said. “They’re hard-hitting, flying to the ball, they did a good job on the offensive line ... but our kids played tough. It was a good hard-nosed ballgame.”

Kinnick 34, ASIJ 14: At Tokyo, Kinnick’s torch officially passed from outgoing coach Matt Martinez to new coach Gary Wilson on a winning note, as Abernathy ran for touchdowns of 7, 2 and 21 yards. Jeff Galang added a touchdown run and went 7-for-13 for 160 yards, including a 30-yard scoring pass to Chad Atchley.

“We’re kind of lucky to inherit this program,” Wilson said. “He (Martinez) set us up well. This was a good way for him to go out. He’ll be missed.”

Abernathy threw and completed his second pass of the season, a 49-yarder to Clay Atchley. Brandon Pitts ran 8 times for 43 yards and Chad Atchley caught four passes for 68 yards. The Atchleys each intercepted a pass, as did T.J. Jones, while Jonathan Santos and Josh Preston combined for 20 tackles and two fumble recoveries.

“The kids played really well, on both sides of the ball,” Wilson said, adding that the Red Devils “struggled a bit” in the second quarter, when they were penalized eight times for 100 yards and gave up a touchdown to the Mustangs (0-3), “but the kids really responded well in the second half. Jeff played well, Chad really stood out and Larynzo was his usual self.”

Simon Sanchez 20, Guam 18: At Upper Tumon, Guam, Fernandez shook off injuries to rush 67 yards for a touchdown midway through the third quarter, then added a 7-yard TD run with less than two minutes left to rally the Sharks (2-1).

Guam High (1-2) has played three games with markedly different outcomes: a season-opening 14-7 upset victory over Father Duenas, a 60-6 blowout loss to three-time Guam Interscholastic League champion George Washington and Saturday’s narrow loss to the Sharks.

The Panthers had two chances to win, on third down at their 49-yard line with 1:27 left, but Cameron Yecki’s pass to Jeremy Miller fell through his hands, then another Yecki aerial was intercepted by Kaohu Ruiz, sealing the verdict.

For the second time in three games, Guam High scored on its first offensive play, when Ray Beria ran 65 yards for a touchdown that cut the Sharks’ lead to 7-6 in the first quarter. In the Panthers’ victory over Father Duenas Memorial on Sept. 9, Yecki hit Miller for an 88-yard touchdown pass on their first play.

Steve Hattai covered a loose ball in the end zone to put the Panthers up 12-7 in the second quarter. Beria’s 5-yard TD run in the third quarter gave the Panthers an 18-7 third-quarter lead.

Standings and scores

Japan

DODDS-Japan League

W L Pct. PF PA

Yokota 2 0 1.000 47 19

Nile C. Kinnick 2 1 .667 70 48

Zama American 1 1 .500 15 22

Robert D. Edgren 0 3 .000 32 75

Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools

W L Pct. PF PA

Yokota 2 0 1.000 65 12

Nile C. Kinnick 2 1 .667 62 43

Zama American 0 1 .000 8 16

American School In Japan 0 2 .000 14 78

Saturday’s games

Yokota 26, Edgren 7

Kinnick 34, ASIJ 14

Friday, Sept. 29

Yokota at Zama, 7 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 30

Kinnick at Edgren, 1 p.m.

Guam

W L Pct. PF PA

George Washington 3 0 1.000 158 12

Father Duenas Memorial 2 1 .667 81 28

Simon Sanchez 2 1 .667 48 58

Guam High 1 2 .333 38 87

John F. Kennedy 1 2 .333 35 72

Southern 0 3 .000 14 117

Friday’s game

George Washington 44, John F. Kennedy 6

Saturday’s games

Father Duenas 34, Southern 0

Simon Sanchez 20, Guam High 18

Friday, Sept. 29

Father Duenas at John F. Kennedy, 7 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 30

Guam High at Southern, 10 a.m.

Simon Sanchez at Geo. Washington, 7 p.m.

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