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TOKYO – American School In Japan football came within a win of its first unbeaten season in 32 years on Friday, thanks to the senior leadership that coaches credit for leading that charge this season.

David Hernandez threw for two touchdowns and rushed for another and the Mustangs defense forced two turnovers and a safety and held Robert D. Edgren to four first downs and 44 yards of offense in a 38-6 romp over the Eagles. ASIJ improved to 7-0, with Friday’s home game with Yokota remaining.

“We’re very fortunate,” ASIJ defensive coordinator John Seevers said, adding that he and offensive coach Craig Karnitz have been “impressed with the senior leadership. It’s become an important part in keeping the team together. We’re very happy with them.”

Hernandez threw a first-quarter touchdown pass, then the Mustangs pulled away with 23 second-quarter points, Hernandez accounting for two scores and Sam Linder rushing 14 yards for another. Leon Hinata capped ASIJ’s scoring with a 2-yard fourth-quarter run.

The long bright spot for Edgren (0-7) came early in the fourth quarter when Nick Cunniff broke the shutout with a 1-yard TD run.

“We got beat by a better team tonight,” Eagles coach Blaine Miller said.

Seevers and the Mustangs said they’re all too aware that the Panthers team they will face Friday is vastly different from the one ASIJ beat 42-20 on Sept. 13 at Yokota.

“We won’t take them lightly. We know we’ll have our hands full,” Seevers said. Kickoff is 6 p.m.

Edgren closes out its regular season at 5:30 p.m. Friday with a make-or-break Division II title-game qualifying game with Zama American. The Trojans beat the Eagles 32-6 last Friday; Edgren needs to beat Zama by at least 20 points to qualify for the D-II title game Nov. 8 at Daegu.

Miller says he, the Eagles and the Edgren community are trying to build an atmosphere akin to that of a team chasing a wild-card berth in the pros. “Our guys are fired up,” Miller said. “No heads are down on the Eagles."

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