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KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — Just when it appeared Kadena’s game was dead in the water, along came Curtis Armstrong, Andre Warren and Jason Lane to revive it — and give the Dragons momentum heading into the U.S. Forces Japan-American Football League playoffs.

Armstrong ran five times for 81 second-half yards and a touchdown and forced three fumbles, Warren returned a fumble 92 yards for a TD and piled up 242 all-purpose yards, and Lane recovered two fumbles as Kadena scored 28 unanswered points to beat Yokota 28-14 Friday.

“Once we got some of our key people back from TDY and injury, I knew we’d be able to play better football for longer,” said coach Will Cupp, whose Dragons trailed 8-2 at halftime. Kadena (3-3) won three of its last four regular-season games and finished second in the Southern Division.

Among the players returning to the lineup was Armstrong, whom Cupp referred to as a “weapon we’ve been trying to use sparingly, but as the season went along, he was forced into the offense faster than I wanted to, but he’s picked it up well.”

Lane’s fumble recoveries stopped one Yokota drive and set up a touchdown for Mike Christensen, who also returned to action.

“Lane’s a real firecracker, a sparkplug,” Cupp said. “He has a nose for the ball.”

Kadena’s Mike Collier kicked field goals of 33 and 26 yards, and the Dragons scored a safety when a Yokota punt snap rolled out of the end zone. Christensen and Valtris Patterson each had a sack and a fumble recovery. Kadena had three sacks and recovered five fumbles.

The Dragons will host Torii Station (0-5) in the first round of the playoffs at 6 p.m. Saturday at Kadena’s McDonald Stadium.

Yokota (2-4), which hosts defending champion Misawa (1-4) at 4 p.m. Saturday, had its two-game winning streak snapped. The Warriors lost despite outgaining Kadena 303 yards to 218 and recovering four fumbles and recording two sacks.

It was the turnovers — and having five drives deep into Kadena territory fall short of the goal line — that hurt Yokota, coach Herb Fletcher said. The Warriors were also missing three starting linemen.

“I thought we played a strong game with what we brought down here,” Fletcher said. “We need to execute. Defensively, we’re there. Offensively, we need to step up.”

Quarterback Ryan Jones ran 15 times for 104 yards and was 8-for-17 for 125 yards and touchdown passes of 37 yards to Tyson Huff and 14 to Frederick Guild. Kevin Fortin had 109 yards on 17 carries and Dwayne Mathis 103 all-purpose yards.

USFJ-AFL

Northern Division

W L Pct. PF PA

x-Yokosuka 5 0 1.000 144 93

Yokota 2 4 .333 87 123

Misawa 1 4 .200 70 93

Southern Division

W L Pct. PF PA

x-Foster 5 0 1.000 109 53

Kadena 3 3 .500 93 75

Torii 0 5 .000 32 98

x-clinched division title, first-round playoff bye

Monday’s game

Foster 17, Kadena 7

Friday’s game

Kadena 28, Yokota 14

Saturday, July 18

Foster at Yokosuka, 6 p.m.

End regular season

Playoffs

Saturday, July 18

Game 1-Torii Station at Kadena, 6 p.m.

Game 2-Misawa at Yokota, 4 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 1

Game 3-Game 1 winner vs. Foster at Kadena Air Base

Game 4-Game 2 winner at Yokosuka

Saturday, Aug. 22

Torii Bowl

Game 5-Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner at higher remaining seed

author picture
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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