Seoul American switches it up to top ASIJ
TOKYO – One of the quandaries facing Jimbo Davis was who he’d put at the controls of his intricate double-wing offense heading into Seoul American’s 2015 football season: Veteran Myles Haynes or untried sophomore Nick Mauldin.
The latter answered the call late during Saturday’s Falcons’ season-opening 34-26 victory at American School In Japan. He tossed a 68-yard game-winning touchdown pass to Rico Howard with 50 seconds left.
“I had a tough time deciding on a starter,” Davis said, adding that while Haynes began rounding into shape lately while recovering from an injury, Mauldin “was there from Day 1, and he had worked hard all summer.”
Still, Davis was weighing which one to start prior to the Falcons’ Sept. 4 date at Daegu, which was postponed when the referees failed to show for the game.
Haynes started Saturday’s game at Mustang Valley. But he eventually suggested that he be put at wideout because he felt he could get open. Davis listened and put Mauldin under center. His faith was rewarded when Mauldin found Haynes for a 45-yard touchdown pass.
“When I put in Nick, I gained arm strength and he knew the offense,” Davis said. “We drew it up and said this was what we were going to do. Some young guys don’t get it, but he (Mauldin) did.”
Mauldin also ran 1 yard for a touchdown, as he accounted for three of the Falcons’ five TDs. Levi Johnson returned an interception 20 yards for another score.
Seoul American rallied from an early 6-0 deficit and led 26-12 heading into the final six minutes. But ASIJ staged a comeback, scoring twice in a span of 3 minutes, 42 seconds and tying the game on Coe Laughlin’s 48-yard TD catch from Sho Hatakeyama, who passed to Andrew Meany for a two-point conversion.
Mauldin misfired on two pass attempts on the ensuing possession before finding Howard in stride behind the Mustangs’ secondary for the winning TD.
“It makes you old, but these are the ones you want to play,” Davis said.
ASIJ took over at the 20 with 50 seconds left following Howard’s TD catch. Hatakeyama gained 4 yards on the first play, then threw incomplete the next three plays, and the Falcons ran out the clock.
It was the Falcons’ first meeting against the Mustangs, and the first time Davis set foot in Mustang Valley since he was offensive coordinator of his alma mater, Nile C. Kinnick.
ASIJ hurt itself by losing three fumbles and throwing three interceptions. “You can’t win with six turnovers, even though we almost did,” longtime Mustangs coach John Seevers said. Ray Hotta was the Mustangs’ biggest shining light, scoring on a touchdown run and a punt return.
“We made some big mistakes. It was big plays. We have some young guys playing. You have to expect a few young mistakes. We have to cut down on our mistakes and get better.”
ASIJ travels next to Yokota for a 7 p.m. Friday kickoff. Seoul American hosts Kinnick at 6 p.m. Saturday.