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Mustangs keep playoff hopes alive by topping Kubasaki

By STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 23, 2017

TOKYO – With senior team captains Jack Ambrosino and Oliver Rogers leading the way, American School In Japan kept alive its hopes for repeating its Far East Division I football title.

Ambrosino accounted for four touchdowns and 306 yards Saturday and Rogers caught two TD passes, one of them a highlight-reel circus catch, as the Mustangs routed Kubasaki 34-6 at Mustang Valley.

“Jack played like a captain today, the way a team captain should play,” coach Roy Tomlinson said of Ambrosino, who was 18-for-28 passing for 266 yards and two touchdowns, both to Rogers. Ambrosino also ran 11 times for 40 yards and two scores and had two interceptions on defense.

Rogers had five catches for 75 yards and two TDs. Kubasaki had to put  two defenders on Rogers, which created openings for other aspects of ASIJ’s offense. “That opened up our ground game,” Tomlinson said.

“They are two truly outstanding players,” Dragons coach Fred Bales said. “They made some huge plays.”

Rhys Gallagher ran 1 yard for a touchdown. Dean Hahne had three catches for 61 yards and Jake Noddin four receptions for 49. Ambrosino also had two interceptions on defense, while Rogers had six tackles. Justin Martini led the Mustangs with seven tackles.

It was ASIJ’s first D-I win of the season and kept them within two games of Nile C. Kinnick and last year’s runner-up Kadena.

The Mustangs (2-2 overall) have two D-I games left, at home vs. Seoul American on Saturday and at Kadena on Oct. 13; they need to win both plus get some help. The Dragons (0-5 overall, 0-4 D-I) were all but eliminated from the title chase.

Despite the one-sided final score, Kubasaki gave it their all, Tomlinson said. “They played a physical, tough game; they ran the ball well between the 20s,” he said. “The first half, we were rocking and rolling; the second half, it was a push.”

While the Mustangs still need to work on their tackling, “it was better than it was last week” in a 67-26 home loss to Kadena, Tomlinson said.

The number 32 resonated with Kubasaki’s offense, as the Dragons got their lone points on field goals of that distance from Josh Swen.

Newcomer Vincent Hill had 85 yards on 11 carries and Payton Powers 77 yards on 14 for the Dragons, who had 192 rushing yards. Koby Karl and Jaylen Penny led Kubasaki with seven tackles each and Juan Guerrero recovered a fumble.

“We played better as the game wore on,” Bales said. “Hat’s off to ASIJ. They had a good game plan and they executed nicely. They were making plays. We weren’t. They’re a classy team and a classy program.”

ASIJ’s home game with Seoul American kicks off at 1 p.m. Saturday. Kubasaki has the week off, then entertains Kadena at 6 p.m. Oct. 6.

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