YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Taking better care of the football and coming alive in the second half helped Yokota reverse the outcome of its last visit to Yokosuka — and into its third U.S. Forces Japan-American Football League title game.
Ryan Jones scored on two quarterback keepers, including the game-winner with 14 seconds left, as the Warriors rallied from a 12-0 second-quarter deficit to edge the Seahawks 18-12 in Saturday’s Northern Division title game. It was a startling turnaround from Yokosuka’s 41-12 thrashing of Yokota on May 30, when the Warriors committed eight turnovers. On Saturday, Yokota coughed up the ball once.
"We executed in the second half, and we had no turnovers," Yokota coach Herb Fletcher said. "We held [onto] the ball. In the second half, we showed up serious, committed and played good team ball."
"They executed very well," Yokosuka coach James Price said of Yokota. "They didn’t make mistakes today. We didn’t have a lot to capitalize on."
Trailing 12-0 after Yokosuka’s Bob Docherty ran for a 3-yard touchdown and passed 22 yards to Lamar Hardy in the second quarter, Yokota began its comeback when Del Washington fell on a loose ball in the Seahawks’ end zone, cutting the gap in half.
The Warriors’ Christopher Rhodey then blocked a Seahawks punt, and Jones converted it with the first of his two keeper TDs.
With 1:41 left, Yokota took over at its own 15 and drove hard and fast downfield, Jones capping the drive with an 8-yard keeper TD run with 14 ticks left.
Yokota earned its third Torii Bowl berth since the USFJ-AFL began in 2000. The Warriors lost at Yokosuka 15-12 in 2000 and 30-21 at Misawa in 2005.
"You got to give it to Yokota. They came down; they played tough," Price said.
Yokota will host Torii Station or visit Southern champion Foster at Kadena Air Base on Aug. 15 or 22. Saturday’s Torii-Foster semifinal was postponed due to lack of field space on Kadena and rescheduled for this Saturday.
PlayoffsSaturday, July 18Game 1-Torii 12, Kadena 6, 4 OTGame 2-Yokota 44, Misawa 12
Saturday, Aug. 1Game 3-Yokota 18, Yokosuka 12Game 4-Torii vs. Foster at McDonald Stadium, Kadena Air Base, ppd., lack of field
Saturday, Aug. 8Game 4-Torii vs. Foster at McDonald Stadium, Kadena Air Base, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 15 or Aug. 22Torii BowlGame 5-Yokota vs. Foster at McDonald Stadium, Kadena Air Base, 7 p.m., or Torii at Yokota, 4 p.m.