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TOKYO – What they lacked on offense, Tyler Cross and the American School In Japan football team more than made up for defensively.

Cross, a senior defensive back, intercepted four passes, kicked a field goal and two extra points and sophomore Tei Laughlin ran back an interception 28 yards for a score as the Mustangs opened their season with a 17-0 shutout of Kubasaki (0-2) on Friday at Mustang Valley.

“We were fortunate to win that game,” ASIJ coach Roy Tomlinson said. The Mustangs were nursing a 3-0 lead in the third quarter when Laughlin scored his pick six.

Quarterback Oliver Rogers ran in a keeper 28 yards out for an insurance score with 1:31 left.

“It was an ugly game,” Tomlinson said. “We didn’t play particularly well on offense, but we played exceptionally well on defense. The defense was stupendous.”

Nash Rasmussen had the last of six Mustangs interceptions, a pickoff which sealed it with 30 seconds left. ASIJ also recovered two fumbles.

The Dragons had their chances, particularly in the first half when they drove into Mustang territory four times, only to have Cross end each scoring bid with an interception. His field goal had the Mustangs up 3-0 at halftime.

“It was a winnable game” for Kubasaki, Dragons coach Fred Bales said. “But we committed so many turnovers. We shot ourselves in the foot so many times. Our kids played hard, the defense was really good. We just made too many mistakes. We have a lot of work to do.”

The lone bright light on offense was Rogers, who rushed 20 times for 108 yards, despite missing most of the third quarter due to leg cramps. Most of that yardage came on the Mustangs’ final drive.

“At least that one time, we stepped up and had one good offensive drive,” Tomlinson said.

Defensively for Kubasaki, Haydn Williamson had 11 tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery and Hayden Peterson 11 tackles and a fumble recovery. Jaylen Penny, Frank Adams and Clint Reventlow each had eight tackles and cornerback Vincent Hill defended three passes.

“Hat’s off to Roy’s defense,” Bales said. “We just didn’t execute.”

ASIJ heads to Okinawa next week to visit defending Division I champion Kadena at 6 p.m. Friday. The Dragons have two weeks off before traveling to Yokosuka Naval Base for a 7 p.m. Sept. 28 kickoff at Nile C. Kinnick, last year’s D-I runner-up.


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