ASIJ freshman helps Mustangs trample Yokota
Stars and Stripes September 29, 2023
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan – Shou Murakami-Moses caught two touchdown passes and returned one of his three interceptions 42 yards for a score, accounting for 144 all-purpose yards and four total takeaways.
Not bad for a freshman playing in his third high school football game.
“He’s a good athlete,” said his coach, Tim Jacobsson, after American School In Japan spoiled Yokota’s 50th anniversary homecoming with a 30-15 triumph Friday at Yokota’s Bonk field. “This was his breakout game. This was the confidence boost he needs.”
It was also a crucial victory for the Mustangs in the chase for spots in the Oct. 27 DODEA-Pacific Division II football title game. ASIJ (2-1) left Friday’s game even with Yokota (2-1) and Osan (3-1) in the loss column, trailing division-leading Zama (5-0).
“We’re still in the hunt,” Jacobsson said.
Even Murakami-Moses, who starts at receiver and free safety, said he was “a little bit” surprised at Friday’s success. “All the hard work at practice paid off,” he said. “My teammates supported me. They’re the big reason I played so well in this game.”
While Murakami-Moses piled up the biggest individual numbers (he also recovered a fumble), ASIJ’s defense held the Panthers to a season-low minus-60 yards on 22 carries, forced seven turnovers and recorded three second-half quarterback sacks.
“We just made too many mistakes,” Panthers coach Michael Woodworth said. “That’s a good football team (ASIJ) over there. They played hard. We just didn’t have an answer. We have a lot to work on.”
The game was played before more than 100 alumni, some of whom went to Yokota as far back as when it opened in 1973.
Murakami-Moses got his first interception 5 minutes, 38 seconds into the first quarter. Six plays later, he caught his first touchdown pass of 35 yards from Pau Wright to open the scoring.
Yosef Brown of Yokota promptly answered with a 49-yard touchdown catch from Ethan Bricker with 3:19 left in the period.
Murakami-Moses got his second interception at the start of the second quarter, setting up Wright’s 8-yard scoring run 10:06 before halftime. Again Brown struck, this time for a 19-yard pick-six to knot the score at 15-15 41.3 seconds before intermission.
Then Murakami-Moses put the Mustangs ahead for good, taking a pass from Wright down the right sideline 52 yards for a score, making it 23-15. Following a scoreless third period, Murakami-Moses capped the scoring with his own pick-six.
Wright went 4-for-13 for 101 yards. Michael Piscopo recovered a fumble and recorded a sack for ASIJ.
For the Panthers, Bricker went 4-for-11 for 111 yards. Jamari Fields recorded two sacks for Yokota’s defense.
The Panthers next visit Zama, while ASIJ travels to Edgren, each for Friday contests and 7 p.m. kickoffs. Neither game will happen if there is no money to fund extracurricular activities.