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Red Devils start slowly, then run over Kubasaki

Nile C. Kinnick running back Harry Cheng blasts his way through Kubasaki defenders. Cheng scored three rushing touchdowns as the Red Devils won for the first time in school history on Okinawa, downing the Dragons 24-3.

DAVE ORNAUER/STARS AND STRIPES

By DAVE ORNAUER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 16, 2017

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa – Even after finally ending its eight-season Okinawa jinx, Nile C. Kinnick football seemed in no mood to celebrate.

Harry Cheng rushed for three touchdowns, Devoney Stanley intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble and Hadyn Guiste picked off two passes as the Red Devils won at Kubasaki 24-3 on Saturday, Kinnick’s first win on Okinawa since it first started traveling here in the 2010 season.

“I didn’t even think about that,” coach Dan Joley said. “We were happy to get out of here with a win. (Kubasaki coach Fred) Bales had his kids ready to play. It was a heckuva football game. Just winning the game was the main thing.”

Kinnick (4-0 overall, 3-0 D-I) swept the season series from the Dragons for the first time in school history. But unlike their 34-0 rout of Kubasaki on Aug. 25, when Kinnick got 34 points in the first 21:29, the Red Devils didn’t put points on the board until the second quarter.

Those came courtesy of Bryan Hunt, a senior transfer who picked off a Skyler Klimek pass and scampered down the left sideline 71 yards for a touchdown that proved to be all the points Kinnick would need.

From there, Kinnick relied on its interior play to grind out the remaining yards and touchdowns, Joley said.

“The line bearing down,” he said. “We went back to running the ball, just went back to the basics. It’s nice to have a lot of options. Harry ran well, (quarterback) Kacey (Walker) was as hard-nosed as ever.”

Cheng ran 17 times for 134 yards, scoring on runs of 6, 4 and 38 yards, the last one coming early in the fourth quarter after the Dragons cut the lead to 18-3 on Joshua Swen’s 29-yard field goal.

“We didn’t come out as physically strong as we did” on Aug. 25, Cheng said. Later in the game, the Red Devils “came together as a unit, talked together, communicated and played for each other.”

Kubasaki (0-4 overall, 0-3 D-I) “played better football,” Bales said, this time around than three weeks earlier; the Dragons were held to 51 yards on Aug. 25, and gained 131 on Saturday.

“We’re just a little inconsistent,” Bales said. “Kinnick’s a fine squad, they have more experience and they played well when it counted.”

Kinnick’s defense bent but didn’t break and forced five turnovers and recorded two sacks, one each by Kameron Leon Guerrero – his fifth of the season – and John McIntosh. Penalties hurt the Red Devils; they were flagged 21 times for 165 yards and had two touchdowns called back.

Juan Guerrero was a bright spot for Kubasaki, catching four passes for 40 yards and recovering a fumble. Chaun Beltran also had two fumble recoveries for the Dragons. Payton Powers led Kubasaki with 67 yards on 17 rushing attempts.

Kinnick has the week off before entertaining Kadena at 2 p.m. Sept. 30 in what could decide which team hosts the Far East D-I title game on Oct. 28. Kubasaki next visits reigning D-I champion American School in Japan on Saturday; kickoff is at 1 p.m.

“Tough assignment next week,” Bales said.

ornauer.dave@stripes.com

Twitter: @ornauer_stripes

Kubasaki running back Payton Powers is swarmed by Nile C. Kinnick defenders Mason Smith and Harry Cheng. The Red Devils won for the first time in school history on Okinawa, downing the Dragons 24-3.
DAVE ORNAUER/STARS AND STRIPES

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