KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa – In a defensive struggle, Hansen’s Outlaws took early command of the U.S. Forces Japan-American Football League standings, edging the Foster Dragons 7-6 on Sunday at Ryukyu Middle School’s Habu Field.

Hansen only managed a fumble-return touchdown and what proved to be the game-winning extra-point kick in the first quarter. Foster replied with a fourth-quarter punt-return touchdown, but failed to cash in on a two-point conversion try.

The Outlaws improved to 2-0, while the Dragons fell to 1-1, tied for second place with the Kinser Ronin, who beat the winless Ryukyu University Stingray 13-6 at the Kadena Athletic Stadium, just outside Gates 2 and 5 of Kadena Air Base.

Hansen 7, Foster 6: Darius Barnwell had a scoop-and-score off of a forced fumble in the first quarter for the Outlaws’ lone touchdown and Michael Barwick kicked the extra point that proved to be the game-winner in a contest chock full of defense.

“The defense shouldered the load today,” Outlaws quarterback Nuke Perez said. “They were swarming everywhere.”

Jarrod McCann had an interception and Devonte Hyman had four sacks, multiple tackles for losses and open-field plays that were “critical in the final minutes of the game,” Hansen coach Luis Carlos Urquijo said.

“It’s a win, but we are better than what the score reflects,” he said.

The Outlaws led 7-0 most of the way until Joshua Brown returned a punt 56 yards for a touchdown that brought the Dragons to within a point. But running back Brandon Jones was stopped on a two-point conversion that could have won it for Foster.

“Plenty of opportunities missed by our offense,” Foster coach Jermaine Baker said. “Hansen will always bring their best game against us. Execution is so important and one play is normally the difference-maker. I just have to get the offense firing on the same cylinders.”

David Gibson had an interception, Gabe Edwards three sacks and three tackles for losses and Bassey Ekon two sacks for the Dragons.

Foster looks to right its vessel next Sunday against Kinser at noon, while Hansen takes on Ryudai at 5 p.m. Both games are at Habu Field.

Kinser 13, Ryudai 6: Bryan Johnson returned an interception 15 yards for a touchdown and Alex Aguilar threw a TD pass as the Ronin leveled their record in the first USFJ game played at the Kadena Athletics Stadium since September 1982.

This, too, was a defensive struggle. Anthony Pollard recorded four tackles for losses, Lafe Pitzen had two sacks and Chris Holder an interception.

“The team’s offense looked a lot better and will continue to work and improve,” Ronin coach Jeremy Edward Tolkacz said. “Our defense continues to look great. And we’re showing that we’re here to compete.” Twitter: @daveornauer

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Dave Ornauer has been employed by or assigned to Stars and Stripes Pacific almost continuously since March 5, 1981. He covers interservice and high school sports at DODEA-Pacific schools and manages the Pacific Storm Tracker.

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