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TOKYO – A strong ground game accounted for five touchdowns as American School In Japan opened its football season by routing outmanned Robert D. Edgren 51-0 on Friday at Mustang Valley.

Andrew Howe ran for a touchdown, caught a pass for another and was 4-for-4 on extra-point kicks. Four other ASIJ backs rushed for a touchdown each and Fayaz Majid returned a fumble 12 yards for a score.

“We ran the ball pretty well and didn’t make a lot of mistakes for our first game; we were happy about that,” said John Seevers, who enjoyed a successful start to his 40th season on ASIJ’s coaching staff.

The win came against an Eagles team that brought just 17 players to ASIJ, and ended up losing a key one, Austin Price, to a right-leg injury; he was transported to Yokota Air Base hospital. No immediate word was available on his condition.

“It was a tough night for them,” Seevers said of the Eagles.

ASIJ outgained Edgren 319-69 on offense, also getting touchdown runs of 2 yards by Oliver Rogers, 5 by Jake Noddin, 14 by Jo Tsusaka and 1 by Yoshiki Takahashi. Jack Ambrosino tossed a 41-yard TD pass to Howe, who rushed 4 yards for the game’s first touchdown.

Ambrosino was an economical 2-for-3 for 78 yards. Tsusaka led the Mustangs with 76 yards on seven attempts. Noddin added 51 yards on nine tries and Howe 50 yards on five carries plus his TD catch. Rogers and Sho Hatakeyama each picked off Edgren passes.

“We came out of it healthy, some of our young kids got lots of playing time, that was all a plus for us,” Seevers said.

Edgren’s lone bright spot was Patrick Sledge, who rushed 11 times for 60 yards and was 4-for-13 for 31 yards passing. The Eagles had four chances to complete touchdown passes, but two were dropped and the others were underthrown, assistant coach Lorenzo Smith said.

“ASIJ was very big up front, not very speedy, but they executed and they (running backs) ran behind their blockers all night,” Smith said.

Despite the one-sided defeat, Smith said he saw flashes of things. And the Eagles did get a bit of ground attack going. “We have to tighten up the execution and managing the size of the line,” Smith said.

ASIJ visits Zama Friday, while the Eagles travel to Matthew C. Perry for a day game Sept. 17.

“They have some of the same tendencies” as ASIJ does in the ground game, “so this was a very good tune-up for us,” Smith said.

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