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CAMP WALKER, South Korea – Cristian Rivera’s legs and throwing arm helped Kubasaki get off to a flying start to the Pacific high school football season.

Rivera ran for a touchdown and threw for three others, and Roland Hernandez preserved the victory with an end-zone interception and 85-yard return with 3 minutes left as the Dragons beat defending Far East Division II champion Daegu American, 24-6, on Saturday.

Kubasaki coach Fred Bales described it as a “typical first game of the season” for his Dragons, “a bit tougher, perhaps, playing it on the road. We’ll take the win; we just have a lot of work to do, typical Game 1 to Game 2 stuff, the little things which aren’t so little” during a game.

The game was much closer than it seemed, Bales and Daegu coach Ken Walter said.

With the Warriors driving late in the fourth quarter, Hernandez picked off a Ronald McLean pass in the end zone. His return set up Rivera’s touchdown pass to Brandon Crawford, which capped the scoring.

“That flipped the game,” Bales said of Hernandez’s pickoff. Were it not for that, and Daegu scored, the lead could have been cut to 18-14 “and an onside kick and Daegu scores again and they win it.”

“Daegu was ready for us. They had a great game plan on both sides of the ball and they brought it to us,” Bales said.

Part of the Warriors’ undoing, Walter said, was throwing two interceptions and losing three fumbles – including one on the opening kickoff – plus an ankle injury that sidelined senior quarterback Darius Wyche much of the game.

“McLean stepped in and moved the ball,” Walter said. “Fred’s team played hard. It should have been something like an 18-14 game. Just had some key turnovers that led to their points.”

Rivera finished with 82 yards on six carries and was 8-for-14 for 159 yards. Jarrett Mitchell ran 10 times for 76 yards, Crawford caught five passes for 85 yards and two touchdowns and Hernandez 54 yards and a score on three receptions. Tyshon Butler had six tackles.

McLean’s 8-yard second-quarter touchdown run accounted for Daegu’s points. Lee Wright ran five times for 70 yards and Romar Banzon 12 times for 60 yards.

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