MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan – Coming off a 33-point loss to their previous opponent, Matthew C. Perry turned to the ground game to rebound for a victory on homecoming Friday.
Jordan Wooten rushed for two touchdowns and Eddie Pacleb and Maddix Larue one each as the Samurai (3-3) snapped a two-game losing streak, downing Robert D. Edgren 26-12 at Samurai Field.
“I was pleased with how they bounced back after that (35-2 loss to Zama) and put together a whole four-quarter game, and that’s something we’ve been trying to do all season,” Samurai coach Billy Henry said.
The Samurai set the tone on defense, when cornerback Billy Henry returned an interception 45 yards, setting up the first Perry touchdown on a 30-yard run by Wooten.
He later ran 15 yards for a score. Pacleb added a 45-yard TD run and Larue raced 60 yards for another touchdown; he could have had three more touchdowns, Henry said, but those were called back on penalties.
“He’s just a powerful back on the inside, and he’s been our A train all season,” Henry said of Larue.
Defensively, Riley Johnson, a freshman defensive end, had three sacks for Perry, as did senior linebacker Kirby Kendrick.
The Eagles had beaten the Samurai at home 14-6 two weeks earlier. But Perry’s punishing ground game and injuries to three Edgren players proved to be the Eagles’ undoing.
“The kids played with heart; it just didn’t swing our way,” said Eagles assistant coach Jeremy Sanders, adding that Edgren found itself in too many second- and third-and-long situations. “We were always playing behind the sticks,” he said.
Jayse Ulechong ran 5 yards for one Edgren touchdown and Gabe Guajardo threw 20 yards to Noah Medonis for the other. Hajime Reed had two interceptions for the Eagles, putting them in position to score more points, “but it didn’t happen,” Sanders said.
The Samurai travel to Zama for both teams’ season finales next Friday at 6 p.m. For the Eagles, their season ends with a 1-6 record.
“We’ll regroup, we have several players returning and hopefully, we’ll be stronger next year,” Sanders said.