Yokota survives second straight scare at Edgren
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — Call Eagles Field the “House of Heartstoppers.” At least where Yokota football is concerned.
For the second straight season, the Panthers escaped with a one-point victory at Edgren. They won 13-12 on Saturday when the Eagles failed on a two-point conversion that would have won the contest.
Trailing 13-6 with four minutes left, the Eagles (1-2) sliced the gap to one point on Andrew Blankenship’s 1-yard touchdown run, and Eagles coach Chris Waite elected to go for the victory.
Jacque Moton took the handoff on a sweep around left end, where he was met by Yokota cornerback Anthony McNeill. A whistle blew as the ball popped into the end zone and Edgren fell on it, but the officials said Moton’s forward progress had stopped.
Later, Edgren’s last chance evaporated when Yokota’s Phillip Williams recovered a fumble of an Eagles punt-return attempt at Edgren’s 15-yard line and the Panthers ran out the clock.
“I’m disappointed for my kids,” Waite said. “They put forward a great effort. They left it all on the field. They did a great job.”
The game was reminiscent of a contest last Oct. 20, when Yokota edged Edgren 14-13, stopping a two-point try late in the fourth quarter and blocking a field goal that would have won it for the Eagles with no time left.
“We feel fortunate to come away with the win, but the kids earned it,” said Yokota coach Tim Pujol, whose Panthers (4-0) won their Pacific-record 43rd regular-season game dating back to 2002.
“Any game in which both teams hit that hard in the line of scrimmage, you hate to see either team lose. It comes down to a big play and Anthony made the play,” Pujol said.
McNeill carried 23 times for 143 yards and gave Yokota a lead it would not relinquish on a 3-yard TD run in the first quarter.
Still on the mend from an early-season ankle injury, McNeill added a 36-yarder in the second quarter, making the halftime score 13-6.
Moton kept the Eagles close with a 50-yard TD run in the first, then Blankenship got Edgren within a point again before McNeill and Williams’ late heroics.
“It could have shaped up into Edgren driving for a winning score, like last year,” Pujol said of the blocked field goal in the 2006 game. “They (Edgren) had some nice drives. They moved the chains well.”
Tony Presnell, also recovering from an ankle injury, contributed 54 yards on seven carries and Derick Seward 52 yards on seven tries. Josh Lehnerd racked up a team-high 11 tackles and Rainey Daily added nine for Yokota.
The Panthers next travel to Atsugi Naval Air Facility to visit Zama American (2-2), while the Eagles visit Kinnick (1-2) on Friday.
Edgren hasn’t beaten Yokota at home since a 14-6 victory on Sept. 19, 1998 – a span of nine games.
[CALENDAR]Father Duenas Memorial 26, Guam High 6[/CALENDAR]: At Naval Station, Guam, Paul Craimins scored the Panthers’ only points on a 1-yard quarterback sneak that tied the game 6-6 in the first quarter. From there, the Friars (4-0) scored 20 unanswered points.
Will Williams, who leads the league in rushing yards and pass completions, yards and touchdowns, threw for two scores and ran for a TD for the Friars.
Dropped passes and an injury to cornerback Chris Brown hurt the Panthers (2-2), coach Brandon Miller said.
“We did some uncharacteristic things,” Miller said. “They caught us napping a few times with some deep passes. We didn’t make the plays we usually do.”
Craimins went 1-for-10 for 5 yards. R.J. Bryant ran 11 times for 50 yards and Torus Washington 44 yards on eight carries. Paul Salgado recorded 11 tackles and one quarterback sack.