KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa - After American School In Japan and Kadena took turns beating each other by wide margins, it comes down to a conference call on Monday to determine which team will play Nile C. Kinnick in the Far East Division I football final.
Jack Ambrosino rushed for two touchdowns and passed for another and the visiting Mustangs – and a game-long downpour – ruined the Panthers’ homecoming. ASIJ routed Kadena 30-3, a far cry from four weeks earlier when the Panthers romped 67-26 at Mustang Valley.
Friday’s result left the two teams tied in the Division I standings with two losses each and five standings points, one behind unbeaten Kinnick, which has D-I final host rights locked up.
DODEA-Pacific athletics coordinator Tom McKinney is to conference with AISJ athletics director Brian Kelley and his Kadena counterpart Tom Bell on Monday to sort out the pile.
The win came much to the delight of Roy Tomlinson, in his first season as Mustangs head coach. “This was the most special night I’ve ever had coaching. We have improved so much. It was fun to watch,” he said of the turnaround from 41-point loss to 27-point win.
“We were solid on both sides of the ball. Jack threw and ran the ball well and we stopped them on defense. I have nothing but the highest regard for Kadena. They’re tough, physical and a challenge to play against,” Tomlinson said.
The game was held up for nearly 45 minutes in the third quarter when lightning was detected too close to the area. The game resumed with 6:51 left in the third quarter.
“ASIJ played a fantastic game,” Kadena coach Sergio Mendoza said. “They are well-coached, they are smart, they were ready and they really took it to us. They got better as the season went on. And we fell apart and couldn’t put it back together.”
Ambrosino ran for two touchdowns of 4 yards each, Andrew Howe ran 14 yards for a score, Jake Noddin caught a 15-yard TD pass from Ambrosino and Tyler Cross booted a 35-yard field goal for the Mustangs.
That was 30 unanswered points following Kian Smith’s first-quarter 22-yard field goal for Kadena.
The Panthers’ regular season is now complete; they await word from Monday’s conference call to see if they move on to their record 10th D-I final appearance. ASIJ’s final home game is Friday at 5 p.m. against Singapore American.