Kinnick’s not out of D-I title hunt yet
Stars and Stripes September 22, 2023
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa – A week after a one-sided home loss to Kadena, Tre Bennett and Arashi Blocton saw to it the same would not happen again to Nile C. Kinnick during its first road trip of the season.
Bennett, a senior running back, rushed for 265 yards and three touchdowns on 38 carries, while Blocton, a junior quarterback, accounted for 142 yards total offense and three TDs as the Red Devils spoiled Kubasaki’s homecoming 41-20 Friday at Mike Petty Stadium.
“Two things happened today that showed who this team really is,” Kinnick coach Dan Joley said. “We took care of the ball and we tackled. They were embarrassed last week. I could not be more proud of the way they responded.”
Combined with Kadena’s 28-0 win at Humphreys, the Panthers, Red Devils and Dragons each came out of Friday’s play at 2-1, tied atop the DODEA-Pacific Division I standings at the regular season’s halfway mark.
Kinnick wasted no time putting touchdowns on the board on back-to-back possessions to open the contest. Bennett carried the ball 15 times for 130 yards, including scoring runs of 1 and 9 yards and the Red Devils kept the lead for good.
It was the Red Devils’ ground attack that dictated the game’s pace. Blocton and Bennett carried a combined 55 of 56 rushing attempts, gaining 336 yards between them.
“No line, no shine,” said senior tackle Bobby Crisafulli.
Blocton’s arm also gave the Red Devils a boost; he went an economical 4-for-8 for 71 yards, including touchdown passes of 32 yards to Kellen Broach and 13 yards to Kahlil Busscher.
The Dragons got customary big performances from Trajon Weaver and Carlos Cadet. Weaver, the junior quarterback, was 13-for-17 for 204 yards and had nine carries for 34 yards, including two touchdowns. Cadet had 199 all-purpose yards, including a 92-yard kick-return TD.
But three lost fumbles in the second half ended up stanching any momentum Kubasaki could muster.
“They (Kinnick) took good care of the ball, they played good short-yardage football, they made few mistakes and they rammed the ball down our throats,” Dragons coach Tony Alvarado said. “We have to play like a better team. There is so much we can learn from this loss tonight.”
The game was interrupted late in the first half by a lightning delay that lasted nearly 90 minutes.
The two teams won’t be strangers to one another; the Dragons travel to Yokosuka Naval Base for a 6 p.m. Friday rematch.