CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa – Kubasaki has made a habit of winning games against its island rival Kadena in comeback fashion. On Friday, American School In Japan turned the tables on the Dragons in an historic first meeting between the teams.
Ryan Murphy scored from 1 yard out with 55 seconds left, rallying the two-time defending Kanto Plain champion Mustangs to a 31-30 edging of Kubasaki at Mike Petty Stadium.
“The kids played with a lot of heart,” said coach John Seevers of ASIJ, which finished 6-1 with a five-game winning streak to close. “It was a special win for me. It was a special win for everybody that we’ll remember for a long time.”
“It was an exciting night of football; we just ended up on the wrong side of the score,” said coach Fred Bales of Kubasaki, which sandwiched five wins between regular-season opening and ending losses.
It was also a far cry from the Mustangs’ last trip to Okinawa, a 49-0 thumping at the hands of Kadena on Sept. 12 which Seevers called a seminal game for ASIJ.
“We learned how to play physical football” in that loss, he said. “We weren’t doing that at the beginning of the year. We were young and we hadn’t developed any confidence. That was a key game for us.”
Two other factors entered into Friday’s game: senior leadership and wanting to dedicate a win to their offensive coach, Roy Tomlinson, who was diagnosed before the season with leukemia.
“We wanted this one really bad for coach Tomlinson,” Seevers said. “We’re all pulling for him. We wanted to dedicate this to him.”
The senior leadership, guys like Murphy and quarterback Brandon Rogers, is needed “if you’re going to have a successful team,” Seevers said. “The underclass bought into the senior leadership and it made all the difference in the world.”
So, too, did the play of Murphy, who scored two touchdowns. Joe Walker caught a 20-yard scoring pass from Rogers and San Linder also ran for a pair of scores.
“They played with energy and made the plays they needed to make,” Bales said. “They did a really fine job.”
ASIJ’s performance offset a dual-threat effort by Kubasaki quarterback DeCurtis Davis, who rushed 12 times for 78 yards and three touchdowns and went 13-for-25 for 289 yards and a score through the air. Davis is the Pacific’s leader in total offense, 78-for-137 for 1,116 yards and 13 touchdowns and 317 yards and 12 scores on 90 carries.
Winston Maxwell rushed 26 times for 117 yards and a touchdown; he has 738 yards on 118 carries on the season. He also caught three passes for 50 yards. Sho Green had 76 yards on two catches and 15 tackles, Preston Snyder had 10 tackles and his fifth fumble recovery in three games and Deaven Curtis added 10 tackles.
Isaiah Johnson led the Dragons with 80 yards on four catches, including a 42-yarder that gave Kubasaki a 30-25 lead with 2:35 left.
Davis had rallied the Dragons from an 8-7 deficit with a 1-yard run in Kubasaki’s 15-8 win at Kadena on Oct. 9, and threw a 30-yard TD pass to Javohn Journigan for the game-winning score in the Dragons’ 28-25 home win over the Panthers two weeks earlier.
While ASIJ has played its last football, Kubasaki still has unfinished business, defending its D-I title Nov. 8 at home against Kadena.