YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea – As skilled as Jarrett Mitchell has been on offense, the versatile junior proved Saturday he can be just as effective on the defensive side of the ball.
Mitchell returned an interception 74 yards for a second-half touchdown, giving Kubasaki just enough of a cushion as the Dragons survived a tight Far East Division I battle, 12-6, with Seoul American.
“He made the plays. He had a pretty good game on both sides of the ball,” said coach Fred Bales, whose Dragons (2-0) moved within a half-game of Kadena in the chase for the two berths in the D-I title game scheduled for Nov. 17.
But it was far from an optimum performance by the Dragons, Bales said.
“Seoul was really well prepared. They played their hearts out all the way to the end,” he said. “We hung on by our fingernails.”
Mitchell ran 12 times for 93 yards, giving him 325 yards on 25 carries for the season, but failed the reach the end zone on offense. He had two interceptions on defense plus a fumble recovery, while Hunter Hankins had two sacks for Kubasaki.
Tyler Smith continued his transition from center to quarterback, going 5-for-7 for 85 yards, including a 55-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Burnette, and rushing four times for 35 yards.
“They (Kubasaki) played tough, but you could see they weren’t firing on all cylinders,” said coach Jim Davis of the Falcons (1-2). He said two mistakes cost the Falcons, the interception return by Mitchell plus blown coverage on Smith’s TD pass to Burnette.
“Penalties. We had too many penalties again,” Davis said, adding that his Falcons played “a lot better” than in their 35-0 loss Sept. 1 at Kadena. “I’ve never been more proud of a team. They did everything right except two plays that killed us.”
The Falcons lost despite a stellar performance by speedy running back Ronald Dogan, who rushed for 283 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown run, on 16 carries.
Seoul American gets the week off to fine tune things, while Kubasaki entertains reigning D-I champion Yokota at 6 p.m. Saturday.
“We have a lot of work to do to get ready for next week,” Bales said.