MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan – A strong running game spearheaded by Eddie Kim and Josh Low and a sturdy defense helped keep Osan in the hunt for its second DODEA-Pacific Division II title in six years.
Kim, a senior, rushed for three touchdowns and Low ran for a TD and passed for another as the Cougars routed Matthew C. Perry 44-5, improving to 3-1 on the season and spoiling homecoming for the Samurai (1-3).
But it was the defense, and a change in philosophy since the Cougars’ first game, that has remade the team’s complexion, Osan first-year coach Tyler Greve said.
“We just tackle, we get to the ball and we make them punt,” Greve said of a defense that held the Samurai to 104 yards of offense, a week after holding Robert D. Edgren to 87 yards in a 30-15 home victory.
That’s a far cry from Osan’s opener, a 45-6 defeat at American School In Japan in which the Mustangs broke for big plays by breaking Cougars’ tackles. Greve said he limited the amount of time the Cougars devoted to tackling in practice, “trying to ensure that we stay healthy.”
“That was a mistake on my part,” Greve said. “Now, we’re tackling in practice every day, live tackling, tackling drills. We’re working on getting our defense off the field quickly, and for our team, that’s what we want.”
That gave plenty of time for the offense to do its work.
Kim rushed 28 times for 246 yards, including touchdowns of 15, 5 and 36 yards, while Low added 110 yards on 16 carries, including an 8-yard scoring run. He went 2-for-5 in the air for 32 yards, including a 29-yard TD pass to Jamarian Price for the game’s first score.
The Cougars also blocked a Samurai punt, which Kaden Elwood returned 27 yards for a touchdown.
Perry managed only a first-quarter field goal of 25 yards by Preston Ramirez, and tacked on a safety when a Cougars snap sailed over Low’s head and out of the end zone. The Samurai were without running back Kameron Ramos and captain Xander Grantham, sidelined due to injury.
“Osan beat us at the line of scrimmage,” Samurai coach Daniel Burns said. “We couldn’t stop the run and we didn’t execute on offense.”
Osan now has two weeks before it visits Yokota (3-0) on Oct. 14. Perry next visits Edgren on Oct. 13.