Kinnick passes first D-I test by dumping Kubasaki
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan – One of the things that contributed to Nile C. Kinnick losing five of its last six games a season ago was, the bulk of its games against Division I teams came later in the campaign. They lost three of those games, to Yokota, Kadena and eventual champion Kubasaki, by an average of 33.7 points.
That’s something coach Dan Joley said he planned to address with his Red Devils long before the season began. And they took the first step toward reversing that outcome, edging Kubasaki 22-18 on Saturday in a twice-delayed game played at Yokosuka’s Berkey Field.
“As short as the season is, as limited as the opportunities are to play Division I games, every Division I game is crucial,” Joley said.
“So we’ve been pressuring the kids, getting them to make this game count. This was a battle, a backyard brawl, two great defenses against two good offensive teams. Both sides brought it tonight.”
It was a game that started late by a half hour due to a prior junior varsity game running late. Later, lightning in the area delayed the game for 45 minutes, and the game ended less than two minutes before a curfew, which mandates that Berkey’s lights be turned off by 10 p.m.
“Some time management issues at the end,” said Kubasaki’s acting coach Shawn Shortridge. He coached in place of head coach Fred Bales, who got ejected from last November’s D-I title game and by rule had to sit out the team’s next game – Saturday’s opener.
Kinnick led most of the way, getting a 1-yard touchdown run from Dre Paylor, a 59-yarder by Greg Bacon and Kyle O’Brien’s 3-yard scoring run. That countered touchdown passes by Kubasaki’s DeCurtis Davis, of 10 yards to Isaiah Johnson and 40 to Jacob Green, and a 65-yard run by Winston Maxwell.
Paylor finished with 135 yards on 19 carries and Bacon 102 on four tries. George Calbert had 19 tackles and a sack, Chris Morris nine tackles, Dustin Thompson six tackles and a sack, Paylor seven tackles and a fumble recovery and Nick Galegher seven tackles and a drive-squelching interception for Kinnick.
Maxwell ran 25 times for 172 yards and Davis was 8-for-16 for 175 yards for the Dragons, who beat the Red Devils 38-7 en route to that D-I title last season.
Turnovers, an interception and two fumbles, plagued Kubasaki. “I think it was nerves, first-game jitters,” Shortridge said. “At times, we looked unstoppable, had a lot of momentum. We had some timing issues running the offense.”
Hydration issues haunted the Dragons as well; much of the fourth quarter, they played with substitutes while their front-line players dealt with cramps, Shortridge said.
Both teams play home games next weekend, Kinnick (2-0) hosting Robert D. Edgren at 7 p.m. Friday and Kubasaki entertaining Yokota (1-1) at 6 p.m. Saturday.