It took four overtimes and an improbable catch by Robert Prince, but the Torii Wolfpack finally claimed their first victory in U.S. Forces Japan-American Football League play, in the first round of the playoffs.
Prince snatched an interception out of Greg Robinson’s hands in the fourth extra period, and Torii’s defense made it stand up as the Wolfpack downed Kadena 12-6 in the longest game in USFJ-AFL history.
“I can’t explain it. It hasn’t hit me yet,” said coach Darell Keith, whose Wolfpack had been outscored 5.7 points in its previous three games, all defeats.
Elsewhere in the playoffs, Donald White scored three defensive TD as Yokota dethroned defending champion Misawa 44-12.
And in the regular-season finale, Foster claimed home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, scoring the first Southern Division road victory at a North site, 13-7 over Yokosuka, in a battle of unbeaten teams.
Torii 12, Kadena 6: At Kadena’s McDonald Stadium, Robinson appeared to have a sure interception as he camped under a Frank Jordan pass at the goal line. But he didn’t control it, and Prince, who played for the Dragons in their 2004-05 Okinawa Football League championship seasons, took advantage.
“I could see he didn’t have control of it. He was bobbling it, and I just took it from him,” Prince said, adding that playing against his former team made it “extra special. I couldn’t have written it better myself.”
Prince’s catch capped a defensive, turnover-filled game. The teams combined for 293 offensive yards, seven takeaways and six sacks.
Jordan ran 3 yards for a score on Torii’s first series. Kadena replied with David Valencia’s 49-yard second-quarter strike to Andre Warren.
“We let quite a few opportunities go down the drain,” Kadena coach Will Cupp said. “Army played well. I’m glad we could give the people in the stands something to watch. Just wish we had a different outcome.”
Yokota 44, Misawa 12: At Yokota Air Base’s Bonk Field, White ran back two fumbles and an interception for TDs as the Warriors got their first playoff victory in two seasons. Kevin Fortin ran for 110 yards, including a 15-yard TD run, and Dominique Carvin and Ryan Jones each ran for scores.
“Offensively, we executed,” coach Herb Fletcher said of Yokota’s one turnover. “Defensively, we shut down what we needed to shut down.”
The Warriors overcame a stellar performance by Misawa quarterback Daron Frierson, who went 31-for-47 for 315 yards, including TD passes of 40 yards to Justin Jordan and 39 to Charles Salter. Jordan had 14 catches for 174 yards.
Foster 13, Yokosuka 7: At Yokosuka Naval Base’s Berkey Field, Bulldogs quarterback Frank Bryant sneaked across from the 1 late in the first quarter following a Seahawks fumble. He then hit Tony Brown from 22 yards out in the second quarter as Foster scored 13 unanswered points.
Bob “Doc” Docherty opened the scoring by hitting Preston Johnson with a 30-yard TD pass. The Seahawks failed on numerous attempts after that.
“I tip my hat to Foster. Coach (Auburne) Edwards has put a good team together,” Seahawks coach James Price said. “I hope we see them again.”