Kubasaki comes back to topple Kadena
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa – Javohn Journigan spent much of the summer working in the weight room and on the field, honing himself from junior varsity promotee to varsity-caliber football player, hoping to help his Kubasaki Dragons defend their Far East Division I title.
The sophomore receiver helped the Dragons take a giant step in that direction Friday, catching two touchdown passes from DeCurtis Davis, including a 30-yarder with 1:07.1 left as Kubasaki came from behind to edge last year’s D-I runner-up Kadena 28-25.
“It doesn’t get any bigger than this, the last play he made. Unbelievable,” Kubasaki coach Fred Bales said of Journigan, who finished with 47 yards on four catches. He caught an 8-yard scoring pass just before halftime to put the Dragons up 14-6.
“He’s coming fast,” Bales said. “He’s found a varsity demeanor and he’s learned to work hard and mix in with the older guys.”
The victory threw wide open the race for the two berths in the D-I title game Nov. 8 at the site of the D-I team with the best regular-season record. Each team is 2-1 in the D-I standings, while Nile C. Kinnick entered Saturday’s game against Seoul American on top at 1-0.
“This is a long road still,” Kadena coach Sergio Mendoza said.
Some of Bales’ older guys did some work also. Davis, for the second straight week, paced the Dragons in total offense, with 197 yards and four touchdown passes - two of them on 32- and 29-yard throws to Jacob Green. Winston Maxwell racked up 129 all-purpose yards, 99 on returns.
All that offset a stellar performance by Kadena senior back Justin Sego, who recorded 350 all-purpose yards. He rushed 34 times for 219 yards and scored three touchdowns, one on a 38-yard pass from Jamario Harris. Sego leads the Pacific with 796 yards on 79 carries. He also had an interception.
But if there was a narrative for Kadena, it was missed opportunities. Among them was a dropped two-point conversion pass in the end zone by John McBain that would have tied it 20-20 after Sego’s TD catch.
“We had our chances and we didn’t capitalize on them,” Mendoza said. “We made some … mistakes. But Kubasaki played a much better game than we did, offensively and defensively. They’re coached well, they played hard and they deserved to win.”
Kubasaki next travels to Seoul American next Saturday, while the Panthers have a bye week before a rematch with the Dragons on Oct. 10 at Kadena Air Base.
“I’m just so proud of our guys,” Bales said. “When you can come back against a great team like Kadena in the last two minutes, to get it done like that, it’s phenomenal.”