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TOP > Game Report > Cameron runs hot, Fujitsu defense stops Obic cold as Frontiers march back into Japan X Bowl

Game Report

Cameron runs hot, Fujitsu defense stops Obic cold as Frontiers march back into Japan X Bowl

’17.11.27

Fujitsu defensive backs Al-Rilwan Adeyami (40) and Atsushi Fujita (7) cause Obic wide receiver Noriaki Kinoshita to lose the ball on a pass reception, which was then intercepted by Fujita, in the fourth quarter. (photo by MI Planning)

 

 

 

 

Cameron runs hot, Fujitsu defense stops Obic cold as Frontiers march back into Japan X Bowl

By Ken Marantz

 

 

KAWASAKI (Nov. 26)—While quarterback Colby Cameron was using his legs as much as his arm in leading Fujitsu to just enough offense, the defense was keeping Obic from doing much of anything.

 

Cameron ran for the lone score of the game in the first quarter and the defending champion Frontiers earned a fifth straight trip back to the Japan X Bowl with a nail-biting 7-0 victory over the Seagulls in the playoff semifinals.

 

Before the overflow crowd of 4,047 at Fujitsu Stadium Kawasaki, the Fujitsu defense constantly stifled Obic’s dual-quarterback offense, holding the Seagulls to 182 total yards and nine first downs while intercepting two fourth-quarter passes.

 

“Defensively, we came into the game with a plan that we thought would limit their scoring,” said Fujitsu cornerback Al-Rilwan Adeyami, whose interception at midfield on Obic’s final drive clinched the victory. “I thought that if we limited them to 13, or 7, we’d have a shot to win the game. But to actually play well enough to where they didn’t score at all, it’s exciting.”

 

In posting the first shutout in a semifinal since 2005, Fujitsu advanced to the championship game on Dec. 18 at Tokyo Dome, where they will face the IBM BigBlue, who beat the Panasonic Impulse in Osaka in the other semifinal.

 

Fujitsu’s victory was its second over Obic in less than a month and third within a year. In those three games, Fujitsu allowed a combined 13 points, having beaten Obic 16-3 in last year’s Japan X Bowl, then again 13-10 in overtime in their regular-season finale on Oct. 29.

 

“It’s frustrating, it’s very frustrating,” said Obic defensive end Kevin Jackson. “It happens every time we play them, for whatever reason. This is four, five years of the same thing. For all of the talent we have on offense, it doesn’t make any sense.”

 

There was little indication of the defensive stalemate to come when Fujitsu opened the game by marching 65 yards in eight plays for a touchdown.

 

On the first play from scrimmage, Cameron connected with Sei Kyo, who made a fingertip catch for a 40-yard gain that would be the longest of the game. Then, facing a 3rd-and-10 at the Obic 13, Cameron scrambled around right end and, showing he was not afraid to put his head down and bull ahead, plowed into Obic defensive back Masashi Fujimoto, who managed to stop him at the 1.

 

On the next play, Cameron kept the ball on an option and went off right tackle for the score that would give Fujitsu a 7-0 lead just 2:16 into the game.

 

“I was thinking that’s what you’re supposed to do,” Cameron said of scoring right off the bat. “The first drive should be easy because you get more basic looks to see how they deal with things. But we were bad in plus-40 [part of the field] today. We were decent from coming out to plus-40. After that, we kind of shut down.”

 

While few would have foreseen that as the end of the scoring, Cameron, when asked if he could have imagined winning a playoff game with seven points, replied, “With our defense, yes. We have a really strong defense and we’re confident in them. You know with Obic, too, their defense is similar. ”

 

Obic’s best chance to score came in the fourth quarter, when the Frontiers were forced to punt out of their own end zone and the Seagulls took over at Fujitsu 30. But the drive ended with Seagulls running back Asaki Mochizuki being stopped for no gain on a 4th-and-2 gamble on the 22.

 

“It’s awesome to be able to [have their offense] start on their own 20 or own 30 every single time, but there’ll be times when you face adversity, and that was adversity for us,” Adeyami said of that drive.

 

“We just needed to step up in that moment. We thought we needed to get three stops, and it ended up being four stops. The momentum was in our favor anyway, but that was a big play.”

 

Other than that, the few scoring opportunities for both teams were limited to long field goal attempts, all of which failed on a clear, windy day. Fujitsu’s Hidetetsu Nishimura missed on attempts of 46 and 50 yards, while Obic counterpart Takatoshi Hoshino was wide on a 42-yard try.

 

Nishimura’s second miss, which could have made it a two-possession game midway through the fourth quarter, came after Fujitsu forced the first turnover of the game.

 

On first down from the 15, Ikaika Woolsey, who shared the quarterbacking duties with Shun Sugawara, hit Noriaki Kinoshita with a long pass. But just as he was making the reception, the former NFL Europe star was sandwiched by Adeyami and Atsushi Fujita and bobbled the ball, which ended up in Fujita’s hands at the Obic 35.

 

Obic’s defense then came up with a big play on 3rd-and-4 when it stopped Cameron for a 4-yard loss, which made a big difference as it pushed back Nishimura’s attempt to 50 yards out, and his kick fell short.

 

Obic had one last chance to tie the game when it got the ball back on its own 20 with 1:17 left, after Fujitsu had punted after burning 4:23 with a nine-play drive.

 

With Sugawara at the helm, the Seagulls gained four yards with a short pass. But on the next play, Adeyami perfectly read the Obic scheme and picked off a Sugawara bomb in stride.

 

“Our coaches do a good job of saying, look, this is the situation, and this is what they’re going to do,” Adeyami said. “In that situation, they’re saying, look, they haven’t gone with a lot of double moves all game, so they’re going to probably try one here.

 

“When [Kinoshita] ran his [route toward the] corner, the quarterback never looked out to the corner, so there was no reason for me to break to the corner. The quarterback’s eyes were inside the whole time, so I was like, he’s coming back.

 

“So by the time he ended up coming back, I was running the route for him. If the quarterback had looked out there, I would have taken a step, which would have given him more time. It’s part of preparation, you’ve seen it enough.”

 

Cameron, who completed 24 of 37 passes for just 179 yards, showed his determination to win each time he took off on a scramble. Disregarding any worries a possible injury might cause the coaches, he opted to lower his shoulder and forge ahead over making a slide in order to get maximum yardage, and finished as the game’s leading rusher with 50 yards on 12 carries.

 

“You try to show a mentality,” said Cameron, whose older brother and former NFL tight end Jordan Cameron was at the game. “That’s what I’m trying to show our running backs, there’s a mentality in running that you have to have. And that’s the most important thing. You see a lot of guys in the X-League run with the same mentality, and I want to show that we can do the same—the tough, football mentality, to play with a lot of heart.”

 

Cameron’s exploits would have been in vain had not the defense showed its toughness. While bottling up the Obic offense overall, the unit stepped up when it big plays at several key moments.

 

Like Fujitsu, Obic moved into scoring position on its first possession, which started at the Fujitsu 48 thanks to a 44-yard kickoff return by Kinoshita and advanced to the 17. But defensive lineman Yuhi Fujitani sacked Sugawara for 8-yard loss, which, as with Nishimura, meant a longer field goal try for kicker Hoshino, who pushed his 42-yard attempt wide right.

 

Another key play turned in by the Fujitsu defense came at the end of third quarter. Woolsey had engineered a drive from the 6 to the Fujitsu 32. But as he tried to scramble away from danger on 3rd-and-3, he was tripped up by Ryo Furuki for an 8-yard loss. Obic was forced to punt, one of a combined 14 by the two teams.

 

“We saw against Rise [Obic's 44-21 win in the quarterfinals], they started switching quarterbacks, so we had a game plan for each,” Fujitsu defensive end Trashaun Nixon said. “I dropped a little more. We just used a whole bunch of different blitzes on first, second, third [downs]. Kind of switched it up, put in some new blitzes for when they went with the quick game in the second half.”

 

Woolsey, who missed several games earlier in the season due to a foot injury suffered in the spring, completed 10 of 18 passes for 89 yards, while Sugawara was 4 for 9 for 31 yards.

 

“They’re a good team, obviously the defending champs and that’s for a reason,” Woolsey said. “They played well, but that being said, our offense, we kind of left a lot of things out there, too. All I know is it’s 7-0, so I feel it’s definitely disappointing every time you lose.”

 

The last time a team was shut out in a semifinal, and the lowest-ever scoring playoff game in league history, came when the Impulse, then known as Matsushita Denko, edged the Kashima [now Lixil] Deers 3-0 in 2005. There have been two other 7-0 games over the 22 years, including a Fujitsu win by that score over the Impulse in 2002.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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