Zama's ground attack too much for ASIJ
October 29, 2010
CAMP ZAMA, Japan – While Zama American senior star running back Michael Spencer zoomed to the top of the Japan rushing leader board, fullback Andre Encarnacion continued to make strides as Spencer’s heir apparent.
Encarnacion, a sophomore, rushed 19 times for 115 yards and two touchdowns, and recorded a Spenceresque three quarterback sacks as the Trojans - 42-13 losers Oct. 16 at ASIJ’s homecoming - returned the favor Friday with a 27-9 victory to make Zama’s homecoming a sweet one.
“He’s a tough runner, a strong runner and he can play on defense,” coach Steven Merrell said. “He’s been working hard all year. We knew what he had; it was just getting it on track. He can do a lot of good things for us.”
“He’s a stud,” ASIJ coach John Seevers said of Encarnacion. “When it takes four or five people to bring him down and we still have trouble, he’s just a hard, hard runner and he’s all over the field on defense. Great athlete.”
Encarnacion’s performance gave him 243 yards and four touchdowns on 35 carries in Zama's last two games. Spencer, meanwhile, ran 15 times for 113 yards Friday and a pair of scores, giving him a Japan-leading 1,077 yards, plus 11 TDs, on 139 carries.
One pattern Zama (5-4) followed the entire evening was lengthy drives. Spencer’s first touchdown capped a 92-yard, 10-play drive in 4 minutes, 11 seconds and his second ended an 88-yard, 15 play drive that consumed 7:37.
“We were able to sustain some drives, move the ball downfield,” Merrell said. “We knew the first time we played them, that wasn’t us. We knew we could do a lot better.”
For openers, Merrell said, the Trojans relentlessly rushed ASIJ quarterback Hayden Jardine, who was held to 5-for-20 passing for 72 yards, including the Mustangs’ lone TD, a 17-yard pass to Sam Hopkins. Jardine was sacked four times, including once by Roland Cote.
“That made it tougher for him,” Merrell said.
The win was Zama’s second straight after dropping three of its previous four. ASIJ (5-3) had won five of its last six, including a 34-14 romp over DODDS Japan and Kanto champion Yokota on Oct. 22, but was outgained 335-119 by the Trojans on Friday.
“This (Zama) group was ready to play tonight, more so than we were,” Seevers said. Of Zama’s chances in Saturday’s Far East Division II title game against Daegu American, Seevers said: “They’ll do well.”
It’s much better, Merrell said, to go into the Division II championship “with something like this instead of the opposite.”