Yokota Warriors one victory away from regular-season title
Jacob Dowdell and his steady passing attack have gotten the Yokota Warriors to within a victory of their first interservice football championship in 11 years.
Dowdell threw three touchdown passes and linebacker Greg Powell grabbed two interceptions as Yokota defeated five-time defending champion Yokosuka 26-6 Saturday.
Yokota (5-0) has its best record since it won the USFJ title in 1994.
Yokosuka, in the unfamiliar position of looking up in the standings, fell to 2-3.
Right on Yokota’s heels are the Misawa Marauders (3-1), who got four rushing TDs from Jamey Crawford and three from Shandon Lane in a 47-0 rout of the Atsugi White Dolphins (0-6), who finished last for the second straight year.
Home-field advantage in the playoffs likely will come down to an Aug. 13 game between the Warriors and Marauders at Misawa Air Base, a battle in the minds of both coaches.
“We know we have a dogfight on our hands with Misawa to clinch home field throughout,” Dowdell said. “Then we can celebrate a regular-season championship. We have to take it one play at a time.”
“We’re very much aware” of Misawa’s chances to win the regular-season title, said coach John Hemphill, whose Marauders must beat Yokosuka at home to retain hope of getting home-field advantage. “We’ll be in good shape if we keep our heads on right.”
Yokota 26, Yokosuka 6: At Ikego Heights Naval Housing Facility, Dowdell tossed touchdown passes of 45 yards to Shun Martin, 25 to Patrick Piazza and 76 to John Wilson. Dowdell completed 13 of 30 passes for 220 yards.
Martin added 40 yards rushing on eight carries, including an 8-yard TD run.
The Warriors forced four turnovers, including fumble recoveries by Anthony Thomas and Everardo Armendariz. Jonathan Pitts added a tackle for a safety, Mardie Wilson had a team-high 10 tackles and an interception and Greg Watkins added nine tackles. Jarrick Nunn recorded two sacks.
The only bright spot for the Seahawks came in the fourth quarter. Defensive end Jai Elridge stripped a Yokota back of the football and rambled 40 yards for Yokosuka’s touchdown.
“We have to go back to the drawing board, right back to square one,” said Yokosuka coach James Lomax, adding that the team played two young quarterbacks.
“We have to work on confidence in each of the players, bring the new guys up to speed, the love of the game and do what they need to do.”
Misawa 47, Atsugi 0: At Atsugi Naval Air Facility, Lane and Crawford led a punishing Misawa ground attack that scored 24 points in the first quarter.
“That pretty much set the tone,” Hemphill said.
Lane carried 11 times for 123 yards, including touchdown runs of 13 and 20 in the first quarter and 33 in the third. Crawford tacked on scoring runs of 5 in the first quarter, 10 and 14 in the second and 30 in the third.
Hemphill was especially pleased about being able to field his entire first-string defense for the first time this season. The Marauders harried White Dolphins quarterbacks all game, recording five sacks.
W L Pct. PF PA
Yokota 5 0 1.000 109 27
Misawa 3 1 .750 89 18
Yokosuka 2 3 .400 54 66
Atsugi 0 6 .000 21 162
Misawa 47, Atsugi 0
Yokota 26, Yokosuka 6
Saturday, Aug. 6
Yokosuka at Misawa, 2 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 13
Yokota at Misawa, 2 p.m.
End regular season
Yokota: Can clinch regular-season title and home-field advantage throughout playoffs with victory Aug. 13 over Marauders at Misawa or a loss to Misawa by nine or fewer points. Will finish second and earn right to host semifinal Aug. 20 with loss Aug. 13 to Marauders at Misawa by 10 points or more.
Misawa: Can clinch regular-season championship and home-field advantage throughout playoffs with victories Aug. 6 over Yokosuka Seahawks and Aug. 13 by 10 or more points over Yokota Warriors at Misawa. Can clinch second place and earn right to host semifinal game Aug. 20 with victory or loss by five points or fewer Aug. 6 over Seahawks at Misawa. Will finish in third place and play semifinal game Aug. 20 on road with loss by six points or more Aug. 6 to Seahawks at Misawa.
Yokosuka: Can clinch second and right to host semifinal Aug. 20 with victory by six points or more Aug. 6 over Marauders at Misawa. Will finish in third place and play semifinal Aug. 20 on road with victory by five points or fewer or loss Aug. 6 to Marauders at Misawa.
Atsugi: Finished in last place. Will play semifinal on road Aug. 20.