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TOP > Game Report > Elecom still has As One’s number, advances to quarterfinal clash with champion Frontiers

Game Report

Elecom still has As One’s number, advances to quarterfinal clash with champion Frontiers


Finies quarterback Keijiro Kasuya runs for a 25-yard touchdown in the first quarter. (photo by MI Planning)





OSAKA (Nov. 5)—For the second straight year, the Elecom Kobe Finies took on the As One Black Eagles in the wild card playoff. And once again, the Finies showed they remain more than a step ahead of their West Division rival.


All three quarterbacks threw for at least one touchdown and the defense only allowed two fourth-quarter scores as the Finies rolled to a 47-13 victory at Osaka’s Expo Flash Field to advance to the quarterfinals of the Japan X Bowl tournament.


The Finies, who finished 3-3 and ranked No. 7 in the Super 9, will face the defending champion and second-seeded Fujitsu Frontiers on Nov. 11 at Yokohama Stadium.


Starting QB Keijiro Kasuya ran for one touchdown and threw for another, Masato Kinoshita came in and threw two touchdown passes, and rookie Yu Emori finished it up with a TD toss of his own. The three combined to complete 24 of 31 passes for 274 yards.


Elecom, which amassed 487 total yards, was equally effective on the ground, even with  Jordan Canzeri missing the game. Rookie back Hiroshi Yamagami rushed for 92 yards on 16 carries, and Tomomi Hase scored the Finies’ final touchdown on a 19-yard run.


The Finies also got a 33-yard field goal from Hidetaka Nakano on the final play of the second quarter to take a 26-0 lead into halftime. Earlier in the second quarter, Elecom recorded a safety following a mishandled snap by the As One punter.


“As we set a goal this year of making it to the Japan X Bowl, I’m glad we came away with the win,” Elecom head coach Ryota Kano said. But he added his concerns about the Finies’ eight penalties and the late scores by the Black Eagles, albeit with the game already decided. “No matter how it happens, I want to beat Fujitsu,” he said.


In stark contrast to the miserable typhoon conditions the previous week when the Finies fell to the Lixil Deers 14-0, which relegated them to the wild-card playoff instead of direct entry into the quarterfinals, Sunday’s game was played under a clear blue sky.


On the Finies’ first series of the game, they went 81 yards in nine plays, with Kasuya going the final 25 yards for the opening touchdown. Kasuya, who had a 26-yard pass to Shusuke Wada during the drive, used a play-action fake, then took off around left end and sprinted straight into the end zone.


As One responded with an impressive drive of its own led by Kohei Tahara, although it came away with nothing. The Black Eagles made it down to the Elecom 11, but three plays gained just three yards and it looked like they would have to settle for a field goal. But they didn’t even get that, as Sean Draper came around the end to block Takayuki Nakanishi’s 25-yard field goal attempt.


In the second quarter, a well-placed Elecom punt pinned As One onto their own 7. The Black Eagles were forced to punt, but Nakanishi dropped the snap, and by the time he reached down to pick it up, the Finies’ Tsutomu Kubo and Draper had converged on him and knocked him for a loop. The ball went out of the end zone, giving the Finies a safety and a 9-0 lead.


After receiving the free kick, the Finies started the next drive with Yamagami breaking away for a 13-yard run. Elecom advanced to the As One 13, where Kasuya connected with Wada cutting over the middle for a touchdown.


Poor field position continued to plague As One. Starting their next drive at the 12, they would be pushed back to the 7 when Kubo sacked Tahara for an 11-yard loss. With Nakanishi punting out of his own end zone, Elecom got the ball back on the As One 39.


From there, it took just two passes from Kinoshita to Wada to cover the distance, the second a 22-yarder for the score to put Elecom up 23-0. Wada would finish with a game-high five receptions for 87 yards.


Elecom got the ball back with :35 left in the second quarter, but that was still enough to set up Nakano’s field goal. Minoru Sato had the key play of the drive with a fingertip catch of a Kinoshita pass for a 33-yard gain that put the ball on the As One 16.


Draper looked to add salt to the wound when he returned the opening kick off of the second half 89 yards for a touchdown, but the score was nullified by a holding penalty. Starting at the 25, the Finies went on to score anyway thanks to another great individual effort, this time by tight end Kaoru Furukawa.


Furukawa took a seemingly straightforward pass in a crowd over the middle and, bouncing off a would-be tackler, turned it into a 34-yard touchdown reception that increased the Finies’ lead to 33-0.


As One finally got on the scoreboard on the first play of the fourth quarter, when Tahara (19 of 30, 204 yards) threw the first of two touchdown passes to Kazuki Kawabata, a 3-yarder  to complete a nine-play, 58-yard drive. Nakanishi missed the extra point attempt.


Not to be outdone, Elecom rookie Emori gained 26 yards himself with a pair of runs in marching the Finies 75 yards in 14 plays. He completed the drive with a 6-yard touchdown pass to rookie wide receiver Yasumasa Yonei.


Defensive back Yuki Nakatani’s interception of a Tahara pass, the lone turnover of the game, helped set up Hase’s run for the Finies’ final touchdown with 2:41 left.


As One notched a consolation touchdown with :56 left when Tahara and Kawabata hooked up on a 20-yard TD pass.


The Black Eagles, who finished second in Battle 9 with a 3-3 record to make the playoffs, will return to the field on Nov. 25 to face the Asahi Soft Drinks Challengers with a berth in the Super 9 at stake. The Challengers finished ninth and last in the Super 9 to miss out on the playoffs.


—Translated from West Division report





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