Quarterback Michael Ott, running back Damien Williams and a stingy defense helped the Yokosuka Seahawks get off to a strong start in defense of their title in the U.S. Forces Japan-American Football League.
Ott threw three touchdown passes, Williams ran for two scores and Gimmie Thomas returned a fumble for a TD as Yokosuka ran roughshod to a rare victory at Misawa, thumping the Jets 54-0 on Saturday at Misawa Air Base’s Hillside Stadium.
The Seahawks remained a half-game behind the Yokota Warriors, who ruined the Atsugi Falcons’ opener and Robert Sanders’ coaching debut 30-7 at Yokota High School’s Bonk Field. Yokota (2-0) and Yokosuka (1-0) are to meet June 30 at Ikego Heights Naval Housing Facility near Yokosuka, with early control of the regular-season lead on the line.
[CALENDAR]Yokosuka 54, Misawa 0:[/CALENDAR] The Seahawks avenged a 30-0 loss at home to Misawa last July 22. It was the first victory for Yokosuka at Misawa and just the third home loss for the Jets since 2002.
“We got taken to the woodshed” last season, Seahawks coach Robert Cole said. “So we drove 13 hours up here and we were ready to play. We didn’t think it would be like this, but we didn’t expect to come up here and lose.”
Last week, Cole traveled to Misawa to videotape the Jets’ season-opening 16-6 loss to Yokota.
“I have to give it to Yokosuka. They scouted us well. They did their homework,” Jets coach Dwight Abel said. “Our offensive line didn’t step up. Their defense put a lot of pressure” on backup quarterback Ralph Elliott, subbing for injured starter Fred Ellis. “We couldn’t pass and Yokosuka shut down our running game.”
Ott threw touchdown passes of 16 and 28 yards to Steve McRorey and one of 45 yards to Lamar Hardy.
The running game proved to be as efficient; Williams bulled for touchdown bursts of 4 and 8 yards, Frederick Farmer ran 6 yards for a score and Roderick Gatlin scored from 2 yards out. The Seahawks ran in three two-point conversions, and Thomas rambled 45 yards with a fumble for a touchdown that capped Yokosuka’s scoring.
Cole called the performance “one of the best team efforts I’ve seen in this league for a long time. Everybody stepped up.”
For the Jets, it’s “back to serious practice,” Abel said. “Working the line and definitely trying to get our run game back on par.”
[CALENDAR]Yokota 30, Atsugi 7:[/CALENDAR] Looking ahead to the June 30 battle with Yokosuka, Warriors coach Sanders called it a “toss up.”
“This is normal,” he said. “Everybody knows that Yokosuka and Yokota are the top two teams in the league. If we play each other four times, they’ll win two and we’ll win two. It’s whoever brings their A-game on the 30th.”
For most of the first half on Saturday, it appeared as if the Falcons were in control, leading 7-6 until 12 seconds remained in the first half.
Bruce Turner then caught a 17-yard touchdown pass from Leonard Ooten to put Yokota ahead to stay 14-7. Stanley Grey added a 12-yard third-quarter TD run and Michael Mathis capped the scoring with a 42-yard scoring pass from Ooten. James Barnes put Yokota on the board in the first quarter with an 8-yard TD run.
The game was called with 2:30 left after numerous injuries left the Falcons with just 13 available players.