Samurai ground out a victory over Zama
CAMP ZAMA, Japan – A stretch of four straight road games, three involving bus trips of 10 hours or more, finally ended for Matthew C. Perry football on a bright note: a victory Friday that spoiled Zama’s homecoming.
Caeleb Ricafrente added to his Pacific touchdown lead with two more running scores while gaining 144 yards on 26 carries and Andrew Borrero added 139 yards on 21 attempts as the Samurai scored 30 unanswered points in a 38-7 rout of the Trojans.
“We’re tired,” Samurai coach Frank Macias said. His team endured bus trips to Robert D. Edgren and Nile C. Kinnick in addition to Zama the last month, plus a trip by air for a victory at Daegu. “But we’re hungry. We have some unfinished business.”
Friday’s victory was Perry’s final tune-up for next week’s home game against reigning Japan Division II champion Yokota.
Perry beat Zama by staying almost exclusively on the ground, running 76 times out of 77 plays, more than twice the number of plays run by the Trojans (31). The Samurai gained 403 yards on the ground and put together three sustained drives of 64 yards or more.
“Our kids love it. My kids thrive on it.” Macias said. “That’s how my kids want to play. That’s how we roll.”
Zach Brown capped the Samurai’s first drive of 64 yards with a 13-yard touchdown run, but the Trojans answered promptly with a 50-yard Nick Canada touchdown pass to Don McNeal Jr.
Even though it was all Samurai on the scoreboard from there, both Macias and Zama coach Scott Bolin said the game was closer than the score indicated.
The Trojans, Macias said, continually gave the Samurai “bad field position, they kept the ball in front of them, we had to work for our points; they were much tougher than the first time we played them,” a 49-12 victory last month at home.
Canada went just 5-for-16 but for 132 yards to pace Zama’s offense. He was picked off twice, once each by John Keith and Dylan Ernst. Keith had six tackles and Lewis Billups five for the Samurai. Brown finished with 65 yards on 11 carries plus one sack.
“I don’t expect anything less from Zama,” Macias said. “They’ve always played us tough, regardless of the score.”
Zama is next scheduled to visit Robert D. Edgren; kickoff is at 7 p.m. Friday. The Samurai’s kickoff with Yokota is 10 a.m. Saturday.
“I wish them (Perry) all the best against Yokota,” Bolin said. “It’s going to be a nice drag-out fight between the two of them.”