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YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Economical passing by Shawn Novak, the running of Roy Roach and a bit of trickery kept the Yokota Panthers in charge of the Japan Football League race Friday night.

Novak threw three touchdown passes, uncharacteristic for ground-oriented Yokota. Two of the TDs were caught by Corie White.

Roach rushed for 160 yards and a TD on 23 carries and Yokota (6-0 overall, 5-0 JFL) scored the last 34 points of a 41-8 romp over the Zama American Trojans (3-3, 2-3).

Backed up to their 10-yard line after starting their first possession on the 20, the Panthers resorted to an old-school formation, the swinging gate, to confuse the Trojans.

Novak hit Chris Roach with a wide-open pass that resulted in a 90-yard touchdown.

“We put some things in for the second-half of the season,” Yokota coach Tim Pujol said. “You have to give people different looks. At least put it in their minds that you’re willing to throw deep.”

Yokota fell behind 8-7 on Donovan Nance’s 88-yard scoring run, and the game remained well contested deep into the second quarter.

Then Yokota rallied and Novak hit White with TD passes of 7 and 6 yards.

“We stepped out of character and took some shots down the field,” Pujol said. “That was by design. We wanted to loosen up their front eight, because they play the run so well.”

Eventually, the Trojans’ key players, going on offense and defense, tired, and Yokota’s ground game took over. Roach’s 31-yard TD run, followed by Jeremiah Pearcey’s 66-yard dash, pretty much sealed the victory.

“The line was opening up holes and [our backs were] moving the chains well,” Pujol said.

Even the defense, which had two sacks and forced four turnovers, got into the scoring act when Emmanual Waters returned a fumble 41 yards for Yokota’s final touchdown.

Novak was 6-for-10 for 143 yards.

Pearcey rushed for 110 yards on 11 carries and recorded 163 all-purpose yards. Chris Roach netted 126 yards.

Shawn Bevett had 1½ sacks and Shamarr Howell intercepted his third of six passes this season against Zama.

It was a bitter defeat for Zama, which needed a victory to keep alive its hopes for a berth in next month’s Rising Sun Bowl on Okinawa.

“Too many missed opportunities and too many mistakes,” coach Ron Geist said.

The Trojans failed to capitalize on a first-and-goal from the Yokota 6 in the first quarter and were penalized 16 times for 122 yards.

Nance led Zama with 106 yards on nine carries and finished with 195 all-purpose yards.

Zama’s passing attack was held to 46 yards; wideout Corey Stacy was held to two catches for 2 yards.

Nile C. Kinnick 57, Robert D. Edgren 7

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — The Red Devils (5-1, 4-1) remained a game behind Yokota, getting another huge game from quarterback/linebacker Leonard Lynce in a rout of the Eagles (0-4).

Lynce returned a punt 85 yards in the first quarter to open the scoring for Kinnick, returned the opening second-half kickoff 89 yards for a TD and ran 11 yards for another. He was 4-for-4 for 40 yards passing, finished with 231 total yards plus a sack and a fumble recovery.

Seven tailbacks carried the ball for the Devils. Jarvis Williams lead the way with 83 yards on 11 carries plus a score. Brenden Lynce ran five times for 68 yards. Ace Ranada, Ken Cardwell, Kris Marcello and Mervin Ibanez each added touchdown runs. Janel Manalansan had 11 tackles.

Bryan Krueger’s 55-yard touchdown pass to Woodrow Carter was the only bright moment for the Eagles, who had held Yokota scoreless at halftime of a 14-0 loss the previous week.

Krueger was 3-for-6 for 67 yards and made 10 tackles; Carter caught two passes for 62 yards and Josh Bonick had a team-high 11 tackles.

Okinawa

Kadena Islanders 38, Kubasaki Samurai 0

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — The Islanders (3-0) racked up their third straight shutout of the season.

Demetrius Kenney rushed for two touchdowns and Alex Berrios threw for another in a victory over the Samurai (0-4).

Kenney led a rushing attack that netted 190 yards, gaining 49 on seven attempts. Antoine Smith added 63 on seven carries.

Berrios went 5-for-7 for 120 yards.

Chris Underwood added a 5-yard TD run, Cole Maxey returned an interception 42 yards for a score and Ted Awana went 5-for-5 on extra-point kicks, plus a 31-yard field goal.

Grady Pennell had two sacks and Enrique Revera racked up eight tackles and a sack.

The victory gave Kadena’s Okinawa Activities Council teams a 4-0 record against Kubasaki, outscoring the Shogun and the Samurai 145-0 with four inter-school games remaining in the next two weeks.

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