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KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa – Defense has the defending champion Kadena Dragons riding atop the U.S. Forces Japan-American Football League standings at the halfway mark of the regular season.

Lantz Jones returned a fumble for a touchdown and the Dragons defense mounted three goal-line stands to hold off Kinser 12-2 on Saturday at Kadena’s MacDonald Stadium.

Kadena is 3-0, a game ahead of second-place Foster and two ahead of Kinser (1-2). Foster (2-1) edged Hansen 16-12 in Saturday’s other game; the Wolfpack is last at 0-3.

“They won this game for us,” coach J.B. Baker said of Kadena’s defense, crediting defensive coordinator/free safety Salem Morris for calling a “great defensive game” and Lawrence Johnson for leading an “amazing” linebacker corps. “I can’t stress enough how big my defense played.”

Kadena has not allowed an offensive point all season, outscoring its foes 70-2. The Dragons on Saturday recorded 12½ sacks, four by Jones and 3½ by Johnson. Jones recovered two fumbles, Johnson had an interception, Troy Evans two sacks and Osniel Garcia forced a fumble.

Kevin Cortez ran 7 yards for Kadena’s other touchdown. Brandon Avery ran nine times for 55 yards, had two catches for 15 and added 30 punt-return yards. Terrell Dixon had 48 yards on six carries and 30 yards on two catches.

For the Kings, Dallas Sargeant went 11-for-24 for 168 yards. Ryan Mathis had 70 receiving yards and Jathan Sales had 83 all-purpose yards and DeQuan Clark 58. On defense, Edwin Critten and Devante Tiller each had interceptions. Rob McDonald had a sack and a fumble recovery.

“It was a real slugfest out there,” Kings coach Butch McCarty said. “Some real old-fashioned football. Two great defenses going at it.”

For Foster, Dalton Auchmuty had 80 yards and a touchdown rushing and Carl Williams also added a running touchdown and totaled 60 yards on the ground.

Defensively, Towand Hill had an interception, Gerhon Teague forced two fumbles and picked off a pass, Steven Jenkins had five tackles for losses and an interception and Tyler Culp recorded three tackles for losses. He also had 52 yards rushing.

In Hansen’s losing cause, Shane Geitgey threw touchdown passes to Shijuan Rogers and Brandon Eto. Rogers had 62 receiving yards and Eto 25. Marcel Ash had a league single game-high six sacks and Kaleb Smith nine tackles for the Wolfpack.

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