Kubasaki pulls away from ASIJ

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 Kubasaki QB Isaiah Johnson dashes between American School In Japan defenders Drew Meany and Jacob Fischer.    Dave Ornauer/Stars and Stripes
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Kubasaki QB Isaiah Johnson dashes between American School In Japan defenders Drew Meany and Jacob Fischer. Dave Ornauer/Stars and Stripes

Kubasaki pulls away from ASIJ

by: Dave Ornauer | .
Stars and Stripes | .
published: September 28, 2015

TOKYO – Big plays ruled the day for Kubasaki, as Isaiah Johnson, Miles Mahlock and Javohn Journigan avenged the Dragons’ 2014 homecoming loss to American School In Japan by turning the tables on the Mustangs on their own Spirit Saturday and taking command of the Far East Division I title race.

Mahlock caught two touchdown passes, Journigan ran for two scores and Johnson tossed three TDs, all coming on plays of 25 yards or longer, as the Dragons pulled away late for a 36-14 triumph over the Mustangs, who were done in Saturday by penalties, turnovers and inexperience, coach John Seevers said.

With their first victory off island, the Dragons improved to 3-0 overall and 2-0 in D-I, while the Mustangs fell to 0-4 and 0-2 and saw their hopes for a D-I title-game berth on Nov. 7 dealt a severe blow.

“They (Mustangs) were taking some stuff away from us,” Kubasaki coach Fred Bales said. “They had a really good idea of what we were going to try to do to them in the beginning. Finally, we decided to do what we do best. Our playmakers made some plays.”

Johnson was 9-for-17 for 240 yards, including TD passes of 35 and 82 yards to Mahlock and 25 to Lester Parker. Journigan ran just 13 times but for 165 yards, scampering for touchdowns of 56 and 45 yards. Johnson also had two first-half interceptions and nearly had a third in the third quarter.

Though the Dragons outgained the Mustangs 442-347, ASIJ ran 67 plays to Kubasaki’s 45 and gave the Dragons fits trying to establish any kind of offensive rhythm, Bales said.

“I knew what was going to happen here,” Bales said of Kubasaki’s historic first visit to Mustang Valley.

“It was going to be a tough afternoon of football. (Seevers’) team is always so well-prepared. They’re so disciplined on both sides of the ball. We were in a fight. Today was a day to grind, and we did that.”

Despite Bales’ words of praise, ASIJ hurt itself with 10 penalties for 70 yards. Though both sides turned the ball over three times, the Mustangs’ miscues came at the more inopportune times, killing two drives and setting up the Dragons’ third touchdown, Journigan’s first scoring run.

ASIJ played a “pretty good game except for giving away those big plays,” Seevers said. “That’s lack of experience, discipline, the few big penalties we had, they hurt us.”

On the plus side, the Mustangs had the ball for 29 minutes to Kubasaki’s 19 and rushed for 290 yards on 52 carries, getting first-half touchdown runs from Henrik Olsson and Sho Hatakeyama, before the latter exited with a second-half leg injury.

“Overall, we’re getting better every week and that’s what we’re really concerned about, continuing to get better,” Seevers said. “We’re going to get a few more wins this year.”

ASIJ gets a week off before hosting Zama on Oct. 9. Kubasaki returns to the Kanto Plain next Friday for a date with a Yokota team that throttled the Dragons 34-6 and 55-8 in the 2011 and 2012 Far East Division I title games.

“We’re thrilled about our opportunity to … take on a tremendous Yokota program. I know Coach (Tim) Pujol has a great season going there,” Bales said.