YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Running back Damien Williams’ dazzling touchdown runs blazed the Yokosuka Seahawks’ trail into their fourth U.S. Forces Japan-American Football League title game in seven seasons.

And the Seahawks’ smashmouth defense did more than its share to slam the door on the Atsugi Falcons’ thoughts of a Cinderella run to the championship.

Williams scored on runs of 27 and 14 yards, and Yokosuka intercepted four of Barry Smith’s passes and halted three Falcons drives into Seahawks territory Saturday in an 18-0 victory over Atsugi in a USFJ-AFL semifinal at Yokosuka’s Berkey Field.

“Defense and power running,” Seahawks coach Robert Cole said. “The defense did it all and the offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage; they (Atsugi) had to send nine defenders just to stop us.”

The Seahawks, who as regular-season champions earned home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, will host the Torii Bowl on Sept. 9 against the winner of Saturday’s other semifinal pitting Yokota at defending champion Misawa.

Cole was missing several key starters with duty committments on various 7th Fleet ships. And cornerback K.C. Davis transferred to the States, taking with him his league-leading 10 interceptions.

“Guys stepped up and played,” Cole said. “They knew what was at stake. Our new guys and our veterans all stepped up.”

For Atsugi players, it was a disappointing end to a season they entered with a 16-game losing streak. Then they dropped five more before winning their last two regular-season games and entering the playoffs as the team that coaches were calling the most dangerous.

The Seahawks “scouted us well. They did their homework,” Falcons coach Danny Estrada said. “We moved the ball, but we had some miscues and they moved to the ball on defense and stayed a step ahead of us the whole game.”

The Seahawks’ front seven kept Atsugi quarterback Barry Smith on the run the entire game, even forcing him to cough up the ball in the end zone for a safety. Charles Blakely kicked a 37-yard field goal and Jamar Davenport and Stryon Linder each intercepted off two Smith passes.

The Seahawks now get two weeks to prepare for Misawa or Yokota.

“I feel sorry for whoever comes here and plays us next,” Cole said.

Estrada said despite the season-ending loss, “I’m extremely happy with the way the guys came together at the end.”

Yokosuka 18, Atsugi 0

At Berkey Field Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan

Atsugi 0 0 0 0 0

Yokosuka 7 0 3 8 18

First quarter

Yokosuka-Damien Williams 27 run (Charles Blakely kick), 12:00

Third quarter

Yokosuka-FG Charles Blakely 37, 5:53.

Fourth quarter

Yokosuka-Safety, Atsugi QB Barry Smith fumbled ball into end zone, 5:05.

Yokosuka-Damien Williams 14 run (run failed), 10:06.

Atsugi Yokota

First downs 6 8

Rushes-yards 26-36 40-142

Passing yards 65 24

Att-Comp-Int 8-29-4 2-12-0

Total offense 101 166

Returns-yards 4-44 4-57

Total yards 145 223

Fumbles-lost 1-0 1-0

Penalties-yards 17-159 13-100

Individual statistics

Rushing: Atsugi, Adrian McKnight 12-27, Steven Wood 4-14, Barry Smith 10-(-5); Yokosuka, Damien Williams 28-116, Eric Lazard 6-21, William Batten 3-5, Emanuel Wilson 1-0.

Passing: Atsugi, Barry Smith 8-29-4-65; Yokosuka, William Batten 2-12-0-24.

Receiving: Atsugi, J.J. Jones 5-24, Dusty St. John 2-15, Patrick Oliveri 1-26; Yokosuka, Leon White 1-21, Stryon Linder 1-3.

USFJ-AFL playoffs


Saturday, Aug. 19

Yokota at Misawa, ppd., transportation problems.

Saturday, Aug. 26

Yokosuka 18, Atsugi 0

Saturday, Sept. 2

Yokota at Misawa, 2 p.m.

Torii Bowl

Saturday, Sept. 9

Misawa/Yokota at Yokosuka, 6 p.m.

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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