Jason Bland

Spotlight on You: Jason Bland

Jason is more than Bland as Kadena tops Kinnick

by: Stars and Stripes | .
published: September 14, 2015

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan – Jason Bland has come into his own.

The senior workhorse racked up 240 yards and three touchdowns on 37 carries, and the Kadena Panthers scored the game’s first 27 points en route to a 35-21 win Saturday at Nile C. Kinnick. The verdict leveled both the Panthers’ and Red Devils’ records at 1-1.

Bland didn’t get many carries last year because Justin Sego, now playing college ball, was the Panthers’ main back.

“He’s a hard runner,” coach Sergio Mendoza said. “He was a hard runner last year. He’s going to be a great runner. He’s a different type of runner (than Sego). He had a nice game today and the line played better today.”

Bland ran his total after two games to 363 yards and four touchdowns on 57 carries, an average of 6.4 yards per attempt. He might have gotten more yards had it not been for Kadena being flagged 14 times for 132 yards in penalties, including seven of 10 yards or more.

“We can be brilliant at times, but we can sabotage that brilliance with a lot of penalties,” Mendoza said.

“That’s a part of maturity that we have to go through. We have to mature. We have to grow up. We make too many mental mistakes. We have all the ability in the world. The penalties are a huge factor. We just have to mentally grow up.”

Kadena’s balanced attack outgained the Red Devils’ offense 381-179, and the Panthers ran 67 plays to 46 by Kinnick.

Cody Sego added a 1-yard touchdown run and passed 14 yards to Dominic Santanelli for a score. Bland’s TD runs were for 6, 22 and 11 yards. Keagon Longtin recovered a fumble, forced by Abe Patterson, and Dan Frazier had an interception for the Panthers, who did not turn the ball over.

Bland’s and Sego’s performances offset two touchdown runs by Kinnick quarterback Kacey Walker and a 59-yard scoring scamper by Chauncey Jamerson. Walker amassed 92 yards total offense and Jamerson 143 all-purpose yards.

Down 27-0, Kinnick outscored the Panthers 21-8 the rest of the way, something which pleased Red Devils coach Dan Joley.

“We came out flat in the first half, just couldn’t get anything going,” Joley said. “But we challenged these guys at halftime, told them there aren’t too many opportunites to get a chance to prove what kind of a man you are, how do you respond to being down (27-0).

“I’m happy right now. I’m ecstatic over what I just learned about my football team,” Joley said.

Kadena, the defending Far East Division I champion, plays Kinnick again on Oct. 9, and needs a win or a loss by 13 points or fewer to win the season series and gain the equivalent of a game victory in the D-I standings. A Kinnick win by 15 or more would give the Red Devils the victory equivalent.

The Panthers next play at Kubasaki at 6 p.m. Friday, the second of three scheduled regular-season meetings between the two teams. Kinnick travels to Seoul American for a 6 p.m. Saturday kickoff.

Photo: Kadena senior running back Jason Bland gained 240 yards and scored three touchdowns on 37 carries. Dave Ornauer/Stars and Stripes

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