Dragons defense, heavy rain stifle defending USFJ-AFL champs
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa – Rain fell so heavily at times, it was hard to see the other side of the field. Kadena’s defense left quarterback James Sanford and the Foster Bulldogs equally suffocated.
The Dragons sacked James five times and converted two botched snaps into touchdowns and blanked the defending U.S. Forces Japan-American Football League champion Bulldogs 12-0 Saturday in day-long downpours at Camp Foster’s Gunners Field 6.
“Defensively, we wanted to control James under center,” first-year Kadena head coach Robert Friend said. “He’s hard to take down.”
Kadena used the sloppy conditions to control the turnover and field-position battles. A low fourth-down snap inside Foster’s 10-yard line led to a goal-line scrum, with Dragons defensive end Justin Lassiter recovering in the end zone. Kadena led 6-0 at intermission.
Lassiter forced two fumbles and recorded three sacks. That and the rain helped stifle Sanford, holding him to 13 yards on three completions.
Another botched snap ended in another Bulldogs turnover, giving Kadena the ball deep in Foster territory. Two short Chris Carrow-to-Lamar King passes set up a touchdown run by Emanuel Griffin, who pulled four Bulldogs defenders across the goal line, making it 12-0.
Foster’s best chance came in the fourth quarter when Sanford broke three tackles en route to a 30-yard scramble, setting up first and goal at Kadena’s 3-yard line.
A false-start penalty followed by two outside sweep stops by the Dragons’ 3-5-3 defense and Lassiter forcing an incomplete Sanford pass on fourth down stopped Foster’s chance of getting back in the game.
The teams combined for 130 yards on 18 penalties. Griffin had what would have been an 80-yard fourth-quarter touchdown run called back on a holding penalty.
Foster visits Kadena next week in the second of a home-and-home series, and Friend says his team is already focused. “Foster is a great team and we’re just taking this one game at a time,” he said. “We hope it works out like today in this Typhoon Bowl.”
In other sports news, at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Michael Garcia caught a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown passes from Darone Frierson, the former Jet who threw three TDs for the contest as the Warriors rallied from 19-14 down.
Final score was Yokota 20, Misawa 19.
The Jets went ahead when Jakai Alston returned a blocked field goal 80 yards for a score. But with eight minutes left, Garcia snagged a 35-yard scoring pass to cap the scoring in a game that both coaches described as a typical North Division “black-and-blue” game.
“Whenever Yokota and Misawa get together, that’s how it turns out.
Frierson also hit Rob Harris for a 20-yard TD pass. Douglas Brown ran 25 yards for a touchdown and Justin Stabler scrambled 65 yards for Misawa’s other score.
Yokota’s Shane Polk picked off two Jets passes, giving him five interceptions in the last three games. Frederick Guild also intercepted a Misawa pass.
Colorado Mesa University journalism major Stanley Schrock contributed to this report.