TOKYO – Even after avenging last year’s Far East Division I title-game loss at American School In Japan, amassing the most points in one game on coach Sergio Mendoza’s watch, Kadena wasn’t celebrating.
Junior newcomer Eric McCarter accounted for 343 all-purpose yards and six touchdowns and Uriah Morris added 160 rushing yards and a TD as the Panthers walloped ASIJ 67-20 Saturday at Mustang Valley in a rematch of the 2016 Far East D-I title game, won by ASIJ 35-18 last Nov. 12.
“We’re becoming a better team,” Mendoza said after his Panthers improved to 3-0 overall and 2-0 in D-I play. “But this team isn’t celebrating. Most teams would celebrate after a game like this, but they’re looking at what they can do better.”
The outcome didn’t reflect the way his Panthers looked during the game, Mendoza said. “We’re still not making all our blocks, we’re still missing assignments,” he said.
“ASIJ is a really intelligent team. They’re talented, they’re well-coached, they can score anytime, they’re a really smart team. They had us on our heels on special teams and they showed we have weaknesses on defense that they exposed.”
Indeed, the lead was but 30-20 with eight minutes left in the third quarter and the Mustangs had the ball first-and-goal at the Kadena 9-yard line.
But ASIJ turned it over on downs, then Morris ran 94 yards for a touchdown on the very next play “and the wheels came off,” Mustangs coach Roy Tomlinson said.
“We couldn’t get it done,” Tomlinson said, pointing to five plays by Kadena, including Morris’ lengthy touchdown run and three similarly long scoring runs by McCarter, of 65, 53 and 54 yards and a 72-yard kick-return touchdown by McCarter.
“They were too good,” Tomlinson said of Kadena. “They always have a good game plan. Their No. 5 (McCarter) was too much. We have to get better on defense. Our hats are off to Kadena.”
McCarter had a 12-yard scoring catch and finished with 246 yards rushing on 14 carries. He had 85 yards on two returns and two two-point conversion runs. Morris’ 160 yards came on 12 carries and he also had two two-point runs.
Cody Sego was 3-for-5 for 82 yards, including a 35-yard TD pass to Owen Sinning. Sego also had 18 yards and a touchdown on three carries.
For ASIJ (1-2), Jack Ambrosino was back under center the entire game and went 20-for-47 for 283 yards and three touchdowns, with three interceptions.
Oliver Rogers caught 12 passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns, while Jake Noddin had 77 yards and a TD on four catches. Tomlinson called Rogers “the most versatile player I’ve ever coached. He can play quarterback, receiver, guard, wherever.”
ASIJ next welcomes Okinawa’s other team, Kubasaki, while Kadena hosts Seoul American next Saturday. Both games kick off at 1 p.m.