📅23 August 2014
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By Robert Balajadia

JFK Islanders head coach Mike Pangelinan wanted to change the culture of Islanders football and, with the help of the JFK defense, the Islanders forced plenty of changes Friday night against the FD Friars beating them in the 2014 IIAAG opener 14-12 at the Islanders field in Tamuning.

“They showed me a lot of heart,” said Pangelinan on what he learned from his team in the opener. “We’ve talked about family, we talk about unity, we talked about team, and that’s what you saw out there.”

Each time the JFK defense needed to make a play it did, forcing four fumbles that deflated the FD offense after each defensive recovery.

From the very first snap of the game, the JFK defense capped off a fortunate 60-yard punt that landed right in front of the Friars goal line. The defense then forced a mix up in the Friar backfield which eventually led to a loose ball on a fumble where Islanders Morgan Oshiro pounced on it to secure JFK’s first score of the season while going up 7-0 after the converted PAT.

The Islander defense was tested again in the fourth quarter after running back Brian Leon Guerrero took a red zone run 14 yards putting FD first and goal just two yards away from pay dirt down 14-12.

Leon Guerrero then tried to punch it in a play later, but a late handoff forced Leon Guerrero to bounce outside where Sean Gomez was waiting for him, laying on a hit that popped the ball out as JFK’s Johnny Quitugua jumped on top to give the Islanders back the ball.

The JFK Islanders running game ate up clock in the second half keeping the ball away from the Friars. (photo by Joey Blas)

The JFK Islanders running game ate up clock in the second half keeping the ball away from the Friars. (photo by Joey Blas)

After punting it back to FD while eating up clock with their efficient running game, the Islanders’ defense were again challenged and again came up big.

Gomez quickly got into the backfield and broke apart a designed running play to force the games final turnover as linebacker Sage Garcia quickly scooped up the ball giving it back to the offense to run out the clock.

“We had a lot of guys step up today and did their job. We saw a lot of wide gaps and we keyed in on the gaps that we saw and the linebackers adjusted. All our hard work paid off today,” said Garcia on his teams defensive performance.

Offense was hard to come by for the Islanders though their second quarter ariel display made all the difference in the scoreboard. Quarterback Quinton Iriarte only went 3-9 for the game, but his two passes to receiver Wayne Jesus put up a much needed six points for JFK.

Iriarte first hit Jesus on a third and long as Jesus corralled a catch over the outstretched arms of the Friars safety for a huge 47 yards. Iriarte quickly went back to Jesus on a motion play as Jesus got the step on cover man Bryton Cepeda as Cepeda leaped to try and bat down the ball, but no avail as Jesus caught it in mid air while landing in the end zone for JFK’s second score.

“We’ve lost to FD every single year and this is the perfect game opener just to show everyone they can’t take our team for granted like they have the past couple of years,” said Jesus.

Jesus is a multi-sport athlete who gets up in volleyball and basketball to where he credited his leaping ability from. He also credited his offensive line for allowing Iriarte to get the ball to him for the big scoring touchdown.

The Friars did not complete a pass on offense and instead went ground heavy amassing 157 running yards.

Friars Noah Quitugua breaks loose for a 46-yard run. (photo by Joey Blas)

Friars Noah Quitugua breaks loose for a 46-yard run. (photo by Joey Blas)

FD’s biggest run came right up the middle as full back Noah Quitugua sprinted 46 yards after breaking two tackles only to be stopped a yard shy of the score. Leon Guerrero punched in the score a play later to get within 14-12 giving the Friars a chance to tie the game with a 2-point conversion.

The play worked to perfection as a play action from quarterback Ricky Brown left tight end Cole Merfalen open in the end zone as the two appeared to complete the pass but Merfalen could not secure the catch after hitting the ground with one ref calling the conversion successful while the other two officials waved off the point.

The Friars got even in the second quarter while forcing their own turnover as Reynold Rokop got a good hit on Iriarte popping the ball in the air as teammate Chris Aguon made a heads up play to grab the ball and bring the ball to the Islanders six yard line.

Friars tight end Cole Merfalen had the game-tying conversion in his hands though catch wasn't secured all the way through eventually slipping out. (photo by Joey Blas)

Friars tight end Cole Merfalen had the game-tying conversion in his hands, however, the catch wasn’t secured all the way through and eventually slipping out. (photo by Joey Blas)

Freshman running back De’Aundre Cruz then scored the games first points from six yards out but a missed PAT by FD still had the Islanders up 7-6.

Irirate and Jesus extended the score to 14-6 before Leon Guerrero brought FD back with a chance to even the score. The Islanders defense came up big in the fourth quarter forcing FD into two turnovers eventually running out the games find minutes.

“This game wasn’t the prettiest, but I’ll take it,” said Pangelinan.

Jesus had 69 yards receiving to lead the JFK offense. Quitugua had 50 yards on the ground for FD while Cruz had 46, including a touchdown. Leon Guerrero had 27 yards on the ground including a touchdown as well.

Garcia led the JFK defense with five tackles while Joaquin Mesa, Frankie Tenorio, and Rokop led FD with five.

Other Action

The GW Geckos and Okkodo Bulldogs game has been postponed due to issues with the Bulldogs field lights.

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