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TOP > Game Report > Cameron-Nakamura hotline fires Fujitsu to record-breaking Japan X Bowl romp

Game Report

Cameron-Nakamura hotline fires Fujitsu to record-breaking Japan X Bowl romp


Fujitsu Frontiers players and staff celebrate winning a second straight Japan X Bowl and third in four years. (photo by MI Planning)



Fujitsu wide receiver Teruaki Clark Nakamura gestures after scoring a 74-yard touchdown in the second quarter. (photo by MI Planning)





Cameron-Nakamura hotline fires Fujitsu to record-breaking Japan X Bowl romp

By Ken Marantz


TOKYO (Dec. 18)—After making the big catches to set up short touchdowns scored by others, Teruaki Clark Nakamura finally got one of his own.


Nakamura’s 74-yard touchdown reception was only one of the highlights on a record-setting night for both him and the Fujitsu Frontiers, who successfully defended their X-League championship with a 63-23 demolition of the IBM BigBlue at Tokyo Dome.


Colby Cameron threw for four touchdowns and over 300 yards, while also running for two scores, to lead the Frontiers to a third title in four years. That also denied IBM a first-ever crown—just as they did when the two teams met in the 2014 Japan X Bowl in the BigBlue’s first appearance.


“You know their offense is explosive, so we had to score points today,” Cameron said. “That was our mindset for the last three weeks [preparing for the game]. So it was really good to finally go into a game and execute the game plan. That was the main thing that we did today.”


The rout, which got started when rookie Seiya Inokuma returned the opening kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown and included linebacker Trashaun Nixon’s 60-yard interception return for a score, was the largest in the 33-year history of the Japan X Bowl.


The 63 points racked up by Fujitsu in its unprecedented fifth straight Japan X Bowl appearance topped the previous record set in 1995, when the Matsushita Denko Impulse crushed the Recruit Seagulls 54-20. The 40-point margin of victory was one more than the Onward Oaks beat the Sunstar Finies by in winning the 1991 game 49-10.


Nakamura, who caught seven passes and earned the game’s MVP award, set an individual record with 203 yards receiving, easily surpassing the Japan X Bowl record of 151 set by the Seagulls’ Nobutaka Horie in 1998.


IBM kicker Toshiki Sato also earned a place in the record book by booting a 50-yard field goal, one of three he made in three attempts. The previous record of 47 yards had been done three times, most recently by current Fujitu kicker Hidetetsu Nishimura in 2014.


With the victory, Fujitsu will get a chance to defend its national title in the Rice Bowl on Jan. 3 at Tokyo Dome, where the Frontiers will face collegiate champion Nihon University—the alma mater of Nakamura and several other Frontiers.


Cameron, who at times this season seemed to be out of sync with his receivers, was fully on the same page with them before the crowd of 22,953, completing 17 of 23 passes for 306 yards before heading to the bench midway through the fourth quarter.


Cameron, the MVP of last year’s game when the Frontiers topped the Obic Seagulls 16-3, had no qualms about Nakamura, one of seven Fujitsu players to make the All X-League team this season, taking home the MVP award.


“That’s what I’m happy about,” Cameron said. “That’s what I’m here for, to make them the most successful they can be. And if they get all of the awards, I’m more ecstatic for that. That’s what they deserve. They put a lot of work in.”


Sei Kyo had a pair of 3-yard touchdown receptions, and Yuya Fukui caught one from four yards out. Two of the TDs came on the very play after Nakamura had made an acrobatic catch for a long gain; the other came several plays later.


“During the season, there were many times the offense didn’t always work so well,” Nakamura said. “I’m really happy that at the right time, the strength of the Fujitsu offense came out. I’m really satisfied.”


As for his connection with Cameron, now in its fourth year, he said, “I totally trust him. It may be too much to say, but he really changed my life. I am grateful to him and all my teammates.”


While the Frontiers built up a 21-7 lead in the first quarter and led 35-13 at halftime, the IBM offense was not one to be easily counted out. Kevin Craft and the backfield tandam of Ryo Takagi and Tomokazu Sueyoshi, who each ran for a touchdown, put together drives that chalked up 26 first downs and 399 total yards.


“I thought we were in it in the first half, definitely,” Craft said. “We were only down a few scores, and we were moving the ball. Unfortunately, that pick-6 in the first half [and the kickoff return], if you take those two scores off, it’s a tight game.”


But three interceptions, including two by Yuki Masamoto, who shared some of the quarterbacking duties with Craft, and a fumble took their toll. In addition to Nixon’s pick-6, cornerback Al-Rilwan Adeyami intercepted a pass in the end zone late in the third quarter.


Also, Fujitsu’s blitz schemes kept the pressure on the IBM quarterbacks, with Adeyami and linebackers Shuhei Takeuchi and Shoichiro Suzuki all recording sacks for double-digit losses. The latter two came during the same drive at the end of the first half that left IBM facing a 4th-and-36 situation.


IBM made a bid to get back into the game to start the third quarter when, set up by a 43-yard kickoff return by Takagi, Sueyoshi broke free on a 49-yard touchdown run. But Cameron responded by engineering a six-play, 74-yard drive that he capped with his second 3-yard touchdown pass to Kyo.


From that point, the BigBlue would be limited to one Sato field goal, a 39-yarder, while Fujitsu would add three more touchdowns to its tally, all on the ground. Cameron scored from the 1-yard line on an option keep, then shrugged off a tackle in sprinting to a 54-yard score. Gino Gordon capped the scoring with a 25-yard touchdown run.


“In the second half, because they had such a lead, and they were able to play with the lead, it makes it a lot harder for our defense,” Craft said.


“Because they’re not one-dimensional at that point. Whereas the flip side, when you’re playing from behind, you become more one-dimensional, because you run the ball less. You have to get it up the field.


“It was a couple of unfortunate big plays that set it apart. It’s too bad.”


In addition to the Cameron-led aerial attack that devastated an overmatched IBM secondary, the Frontiers won the battle of the trenches, most noticeably by all but neutralizing the BigBlue’s powerful front four featuring All X-League defensive end James Brooks and nose tackle Charles Tuaau.


The Fujitsu offensive line did not allow a sack, and assured that Cameron had the time to unload his bombs. Of his 17 completions, five went for more than 30 yards as the Frontiers piled up 506 total yards.


“Anytime we played Americans on the D-line, I think the guys raise the level up a little bit,” Fujitsu offensive line coach Keven Lightner said. “And I pushed that. If you want to beat the best, you got to be able to play with the Americans, and those guys are good players.


“So I’m really proud. They neutralized those players, took them out of the game, and let our quarterback make plays. Colby could do whatever he wanted today, able to run, too, and mix it in.”


And the Frontiers did it despite losing All X-League guard Shun Mochizuki early in the game to an ankle injury. That showed the depth of the Fujitsu roster, as Lightner said he rotated 10 players as he had done all season.


“We just moved a guy over and he played great,” Lightner said. “The depth, playing those guys all year, really has helped, kept our guys fresh. Nobody really had to play the whole game the whole year, and that’s huge.”


There was one noticeable blip, and that led to a more historic moment than just becoming one of two Fujitsu turnovers in the game.


Fujitsu, up 21-7 early in the second quarter, was on the IBM 27 when linebacker Kevin Coghlan hit Cameron’s arm as he started to throw, causing a fumble that Shuhei Morita recovered for the BigBlue.


For the first time in Japan league history, video review was used in an official game, and that play became the first one subjected to the new rule. After consulting with the video official, the call on the field—a fumble recovered by IBM—was confirmed.


There would be only one other play reviewed during the game, a pass reception by IBM that was also upheld.


IBM converted the turnover into Sato’s first field goal of the day, a 38-yarder that cut the lead to 11 points. But that margin didn’t last long.


On the third play of Fujitsu’s ensuing possession from its own 26, Cameron had plenty of time to find Nakamura downfield. But when defensive back Kengo Teranaka went to block the pass and missed, there was nobody between Nakamura and the end zone as he sprinted the last 40 or so yards for the score.


“For me, it was all about, I knew we had better receivers, so if we could block, I think we’ll be okay,” Cameron said. “And that’s what happened today. We had a lot of time, we were able to run the ball a little, and it paid off.”


Craft finished 18 of 33 for 193 yards, while Masamoto was 6 of 11 for 43 yards. Sueyoshi, with nearly half his yards coming on his touchdown run, gained 101 on eight carries. John Stanton was IBM’s leading receiver with six receptions for 82 yards.


After Fujitsu’s 44-10 victory over IBM in the 2014 Japan X Bowl, the two teams met twice last season, with the Frontiers winning both by close scores, 29-24 in the regular season and 28-26 on a last-second field goal in the playoff semifinals.


This season, Fujitsu was dealt a 24-9 regular-season loss by the Panasonic Impulse, the same team that the BigBlue defeated 31-24 to advance to the championship. The Frontiers earned a trip to the Japan X Bowl with a 7-0 win over Obic, which IBM beat 38-34 to open the regular season in which it finished 4-2.


The competitiveness between the league’s top teams makes Fujitsu’s ability to advance to the final for five straight years and win two in a row all the more noteworthy. The 63 points marked only the third time in 19 years that the winning team of the Japan X Bowl scored more than 30 points.


“The main goal was to win the X Bowl in this tough, competitive league, two years in a row, which we did,” Cameron said.


For IBM coach Shinzo Yamada, it’s back to the drawing board. Perhaps he can take some solace in the fact that Fujitsu lost five straight championship games before finally coming out on top.


“One on one against their receivers, we knew it, but we have to make some plays,” Yamada said. “Missed tackles, long gains. When we needed a pass rush, we couldn’t get it. It was disappointing.”


For the city of Kawasaki, Fujitsu’s win was cause for double celebration, as it came a month after corporate cousin Kawasaki Frontale captured its first-ever title in soccer’s J.League.





























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