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Hansen, Foster open military football play with wins

By STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 23, 2020

KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa – Hansen’s Outlaws opened their bid for a U.S. Forces Japan-American Football League title three-peat strongly, blanking the Kinser Ronin 24-0 on Sunday at Ryukyu Middle School’s Habu Field.

The Outlaws’ opponent in last April’s Torii Bowl, the Foster Dragons, kept pace by shutting out the Ryukyu University Stingray 28-0. The two games were played under sunny skies, with temperatures in the high 60s and strong northerly winds.

Sunday’s games opened the league’s 21st season. The four USFJ-AFL teams are scheduled for a six-week regular season ending April 5, followed by two weeks of playoffs, semifinals on April 19 and the third-place game and Torii Bowl on April 26.

Hansen beat Foster 14-6 in the Torii Bowl last April 28 at Habu Field, becoming the first team in 12 years to win back-to-back USFJ-AFL titles. No team has won three straight since the Yokosuka Seahawks took the first five league titles, from 2000-04.

Hansen 24, Kinser 0: If the best offense is a good defense, then the Outlaws hit the mother lode on Sunday, as Victor Nard and Joel Mariscal took advantage of the mistake-prone Ronin, each returning fumbles for touchdowns.

Darius Barnwell had two interceptions and a fumble recovery and Tito Velasquez also had an interception. The other Outlaws touchdown came on a 10-yard pass to Tanner Davis.

“Collectively, as a team, we still have work to do,” coach Luis Carlos Urquijo said. “Too many penalties on the simple things.”

Foster 28, Ryudai 0: Caleb Mahone rushed for 82 yards and two scores, Brandon Jones ran for 107 yards and a TD and David Gibson Jr. scored on  94-yard interception return for the Dragons.

Melie Politoni had 12 tackles, four for losses, Gabe Edwards eight tackles including five for losses and Desondre King seven tackles, while Ken Lampkin also picked off a pass for Foster.

“We have a long way to go, but we’re headed in the right direction,” Dragons coach Jermaine Baker said. “We left a lot of points on the field, but we’ll clean them up moving forward.”

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