Avery powers Kadena to 38-24 win over Yokosuka
KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — New starting quarterback Brandon Avery threw for three touchdowns and ran for another, leading Kadena to a 38-24 win over Yokosuka on Saturday in the U.S. Forces Japan-American Football League season opener.
“Pretty good offense,” Kadena coach Robert Friend said. “Looks like we might finally have the spread down.”
The Dragons’ defense — self-labeled the “No-Fly Zone” — did the rest, with Anthony Morris picking off Yokosuka’s Kenny Jackson twice and Colt Kellenbeck racking up three sacks, one for a second-quarter safety.
The Dragons’ win began what will be the most unlikely season in the league’s 15-year history. Yokosuka is the lone remaining North Division team after Misawa and Yokota folded, while the South Division has four teams for the first time.
By direction of commissioner Joe Howell last month, the season schedule remains the same as set in February before the teams folded, with the Seahawks getting credit for forfeit wins over Misawa and Yokota.
They will play as many South teams as they can and fill the rest of their schedule with Japanese teams; already, they’ve played two. And on July 12, Yokosuka visits Okinawa again to play the South Division winner in the league championship Torii Bowl.
Though the game didn’t count toward playoff standing for the Dragons, they expressed appreciation for the opportunity to see somebody they won’t see regularly.
“We thank Yokosuka for coming down and playing us,” Friend said.
With coaches and players from all the South Division teams in the stands looking on, both teams took turns plying spread-option attacks, many plays beginning with empty backfields, save the quarterbacks.
Avery threw for touchdowns of 40 yards to Vasquez Lopez, 5 yards to Anthony Felton and 20 to Dante Ecford. Avery also ran 3 yards for a score. Jackson found Dwayne Johnson for touchdowns of 31, 15 and 10 yards and Keith Alston from 35 yards out.
Ralph Jones also ran for a 1-yard Kadena touchdown. But the play that slammed the door on the Seahawks was Ecford’s 63-yard kick-return touchdown that followed a Jackson TD pass.
The South Division’s season opens Saturday with Foster visiting Hansen and Kinser entertaining Kadena. Start times are set for 2 p.m., but may change, pending referee availability.