Edgren falls to Zama in D-II championship
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Family, friends and fans of the Edgren Eagles lined the field as their players were announced before the Division II Championship game, a setting they had not been in for five years. Their opponent, the Zama Trojans, was more than comfortable being in this position considering this was their fifth year in a row being here.
Experience may have been the deciding factor in this game as Zama defeated Edgren for the Division II title 35-20 at Camp Zama, Japan, Nov. 10, 2012. Zama won the game for the third time in five years and played the final game of the season with 18 seniors on their roster compared to Edgren's five.
Edgren started off the game with the ball, but the Eagles had to punt it away after struggling to get anything done on offense early.
However, the Zama offense didn't have this problem and didn't for most of the night. The first scoring play of the game was a halfback pass from Zama's David Coleman to Raymond Bestor for 20 yards giving the Trojans an early 7-0 lead.
After an Edgren fumble, Zama ran it in for another score by way of an 11 yard run from senior running back Andre Encarnacion to make it 14-0. Encarnacion had three touchdowns that day to go with 171 yards rushing on 21 carries, which currently puts him in the lead for most touchdowns and rushing yards in the Pacific.
The Eagles did not call it quits though, and after two fumble recoveries and two touchdowns from Louis Murphy by way of a 12-yard run and a pass from backup quarterback Leo Austin to Tristan Jefferson, the lead was cut to 14-12.
Despite all this, Encarnacion was back for more and a four-yard run before the half made it 20-12 Zama at halftime. After the break, Zama picked up right where they left off and started the second half with a five minute 17 second drive that ended in another Encarnacion run, this one for nine yards.
At this point, the game was 26-12 and when Eagles senior wide receiver Khalil Williams was tackled in the end zone by Holden Limas of Zama for a safety, the lead was increased to 28-12. After an ensuing Edgren punt, due to the safety, Zama drove down the field again and made the game 35-12 with 7:11 to go in the fourth quarter.
One positive of the night is the Edgren Eagles were able to score on their final drive led by Austin. Austin threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Williams as time expired, followed by a two-point conversion making it 35-20 in Zama's favor.
Although the Eagles fell short in the D-II title game, they posted their first season with a win in two years and played for the championship for the first time in five years. Their coach, Blaine Miller, is the first to tell them how great they did in this game.
"This was the best game they played all season," said Miller. "They played above my standard and tonight I saw a bunch of football players."