YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan – He’d been overshadowed much of the season by dual-threat senior quarterback David Hernandez. But on Friday, Ryan Murphy more than answered the call when needed – and American School In Japan has its first championship in four years as a result.

Murphy, a junior running back, rushed 23 times for 241 yards and two touchdowns, while the defense held Nile C. Kinnick to a season-low 227 yards and recovered two fumbles in the Mustangs’ 34-13 win, ruining the Red Devils’ homecoming at Yokosuka’s Berkey Field.

“We’re pretty fortunate to have Ryan,” Mustangs offensive coordinator Craig Karnitz said of Murphy, who transferred from Montgomery, N.J. “And he’s a great kid, a really great kid.”

His 72-yard third-quarter run after the Mustangs stopped Kinnick (6-2 overall) on a goal-line stand proved to be the backbreaker. “Huge,” ASIJ defensive coordinator John Seevers said.

With the win, the Mustangs (6-0) swept the season series from Kinnick captured their first Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools title since 2009, and ended the Red Devils’ bid to win their first since 1998.

“Outstanding team effort, outstanding feeling to win,” Seevers said. “We had some great individual efforts. Ryan played a great game, the defense played a great game, and played it against a great Kinnick team.”

Murphy also recovered a fumble, as did Ansel Marsh, fumbled forced by Brandon Rogers and Mizuki Shumsky.

As a team, the Mustangs rushed 48 times for 389 yards. Zach Noddin added 72 yards on seven carries with a touchdown, while Hernandez was held to a season-low 31 yards and a touchdown, and went 1-for-6 passing for 28 yards on a gusty evening.

Kinnick gained 191 yards on 45 carries as a team, led by Dre Paylor’s 106 yards on 24 carries, giving him a Pacific-best 1,581 yards this season. He also returned a kick 88 yards for Kinnick’s first score. Dustin Wilson added 82 yards and a TD in 16 carries and was 3-for-15 for 36 yards.

George Calbert had 10 tackles, Ian O’Brien seven including three for losses and Ian Dignan and Greg Bacon each intercepted Hernandez passes.

“We got beat by the better team,” Kinnick coach Daniel Joley said. “Two crucial turnovers cost us.”

The Red Devils now turn their attention to the chase for Far East Division I title-game berths. They visit Kubasaki next Saturday; kickoff is at 11 a.m. at Mike Petty Stadium. ASIJ has the week off before entertaining Robert D. Edgren on Oct. 25; kickoff is at 6 p.m.

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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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