YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea – Special teams helped Kubasaki remain perfect off of Okinawa and in the chase for their sixth straight berth in the Far East Division I title game.
Anthony Macaluso ran back a kick for a touchdown and Alex Ramos returned a punt for a score and the Dragons held off a fourth-quarter comeback for a 28-18 win Saturday at Sims Field.
“It was a big-play night,” coach Fred Bales said of a Kubasaki team (2-2) that “didn’t sustain much of anything on offense. We’re still chopping wood, trying to find some kind of rhythm. But it was a good win for us.”
Macaluso emerged as the Dragons’ “leading man” Saturday, Bales said. He ran 12 times for 84 yards, was 1-for-3 passing for 12 yards and scored what Bales called two crucial touchdowns at the right moments.
The Falcons (0-4) had just cut Kubasaki’s lead to 7-6 on a 23-yard scoring run by Gary Moran just before halftime. Kubasaki ran a fake-reverse return, with Macaluso taking the ball 84 yards for a score.
“That was big,” Bales said.
As the third quarter opened, Macaluso gave the Dragons a 15-point cushion with a 14-yard touchdown run.
Ramos put it out of reach with a 62-yard punt-return touchdown in the fourth period, and Antonio Mitchell sealed the victory with a last-minute interception of Falcons quarterback David Messinger.
It was by no means an easy task beating the Falcons on their home turf, Bales said, adding that Seoul American was a “lot better team” than it was three weeks earlier when the Falcons lost 48-6 at Kadena. Bales was in attendance at that game.
“They (Falcons) came to win today,” Bales said. “They took it to us, they played strong, they did a good job of getting ready for us and took away a lot of things from us.”
“We’re making improvements,” Falcons coach Shawen Smith said.
Messinger kept the Falcons in the contest with a pair of second-half touchdown passes, a 60-yarder to M.J. Haynes and a 23-yarder to Willie Grandison to cap a three-play, 68-yard fourth-quarter drive to cut the gap to 28-18.
“The defense played fantastic. We’ve had some injuries, but the backups are coming into their own,” Smith said. “We still got the L, we had a few mistakes on special teams, but overall, it was a great improvement over the first three games.”
The Falcons, who are all but out of the title chase, take to the road Saturday for a game at Nile C. Kinnick; kickoff is at 2 p.m.
The Dragons – who won 13-6 at Kinnick in their other off-island game on Sept. 17 – next play a non-divisional home game against the Singapore Eagles; kickoff is at 6 p.m. Friday.