Senior running back Chris Roach ran for 243 yards and two touchdowns on Friday to help host Yokota beat Nile C. Kinnick 24-7 and capture their sixth consecutive titles in the Japan Football League and Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools.
The Panthers secured homefield advantage for Rising Sun Bowl VI on Nov. 13 against the Okinawa Activities Council champion, which will be decided Thursday. And for the second straight year, Yokota will face a team from Kadena.
The Kadena Buccaneers powered past the Kubasaki Samurai 34-21, while the unbeaten Kadena Islanders rallied to beat the winless Kubasaki Shogun 21-16 in Friday’s OAC semifinals at Kubasaki’s Mike Petty Stadium.
Elsewhere, Zama American closed its season with its second straight one-sided victory as Donovan Nance scored three touchdowns in a 38-6 rout of American School In Japan.
Yokota 24, Nile C. Kinnick 7
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Kinnick, which lost to Yokota 7-6 on Sept. 24, needed a victory by two points or more at Bonk Field to end the Panthers’ title run.
“This game, the pressure was on even more,” Yokota coach Tim Pujol said. “We had to win. We didn’t have much room for error. We’re used to going into our second game with teams having already beaten them by comfortable margins.”
Kinnick scored first, converting one of three Yokota fumbles into a Jarvis Williams 11-yard first-quarter touchdown run.
But Roach, who averaged 10 yards a carry, ran 9 yards for a score to tie it. Then, a bad snap to Kinnick’s punter set up Roach’s 10-yard TD run that put the Panthers in front to stay. Stefan Welch’s 32-yard field goal made it 17-7 at halftime.
While Yokota’s defense shut out the Red Devils in the second half, its offense “dictated the play,” according to Kinnick offensive coordinator Jimmy Davis.
“The momentum changed,” Davis said. “They rammed the ball down our throats.”
Yokota’s TD after halftime came on Shawn Novak’s 19-yard pass to Shamarr Howell. Novak completed two of four passes for 38 yards. Howell caught both passes and ran 12 times for 46 yards, and Josh Cunningham had 37 yards on six carries. Jamal McNeill led Yokota with 11 tackles and Kenny Harris had nine.
For Kinnick, Lenny Lynce ran 15 times for 91 yards, caught four passes for 81 and had eight tackles. Williams added 54 yards on 10 carries and had nine tackles. Quarterback David McDermott was 8-for-11 for 121 yards.
The Panthers have won 46 straight games on the field.
“They’re (titles) each unique because they’re different groups of kids,” Pujol said. “But it’s always good to see their hard work pay off and the satisfaction in their faces.”
Zama American 38, American School In Japan 6
CAMP ZAMA, Japan — Nance amassed 258 all-purpose yards and scored on a 58-yard run, a 60-yard interception return and a 98-yard fumble return as the Trojans (3-5) outscored their last two opponents 76-13 in two victories.
Chris Johnson carried 12 times for 108 yards, ran 2 yards for a touchdown and converted three two-point attempts. Quincy Howard tossed an 87-yard pass to Miguel Vega for Zama’s other touchdown. Vega and Anthony Garcia each intercepted passes for Zama.
Kadena Islanders 21, Kubasaki Shogun 16
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Keith Loving capped the Islanders’ comeback with a 5-yard fourth-quarter touchdown run. Loving had 142 yards on 27 carries.
C.J. Weidner returned a fumble 16 yards for a TD and Stcyr Madayag tossed a 15-yard scoring pass to Arnold Tillman.
The Shogun led 9-7 at halftime on Rafael Mew’s 17-yard touchdown pass to Ronnie Stephens and Chris Snyder’s 25-yard field goal.
“We know every team gets up to play us. They want to beat the Islanders,” coach Sergio Mendoza said. “This (Shogun) is the most underrated team on the island. They’re not an 0-7 team, in my book. It would have been different with a few breaks. They play with pride and class.”
Mew had 131 all-purpose yards and cut the final margin to five points with a 2-yard run with 1:46 left. Jarrell Moss recovered two fumbles as the Shogun forced six turnovers. Loving recovered a fumble and David McCowan, playing for the first time in three weeks, had an interception.
Kadena Buccaneers 34, Kubasaki Samurai 21
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Darnell Womach returned an interception 27 yards for a score and ran 13 times for 104 yards and a touchdown, while Tyler Schmidt threw two TD passes to Gary Wright as the defending island champions won for the third time in four games.
“The kids have worked hard and gotten better every week,” Buccaneers coach Brian Wetherington said. “You can’t ask for more than that as a coach.”
Lenard White’s 50-yard run on a reverse put the Samurai ahead 7-0 in the opening minutes. Wright tied it with his first TD catch, a 7-yarder, and it stayed tied until Womach’s interception return.
Schmidt went 4-for-7 for 43 yards and ran 12 times for 137 yards. Alex Weaver recovered a fumble caused by Zach Sisco in the end zone for a touchdown as the Bucs forced four turnovers and recorded two sacks.
For the Samurai, Desmond Jackson gained 166 all-purpose yards, including a 36-yard TD run. Justin Daugherty went 5-for-16 for 49 yards, including a 5-yard scoring pass to Stephen Thompson.