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TOP > Game Report > Gordon’s 4 TDs lift Fujitsu to rout of IBM, 1st Japan X Bowl triumph

Game Report

Gordon’s 4 TDs lift Fujitsu to rout of IBM, 1st Japan X Bowl triumph

’14.12.16

Fujitsu running back Gino Gordon celebrates after scoring on a 2-yard run in the second quarter, the second of his four touchdowns.

Fujitsu defensive back Shinya Miki returns an interception off IBM quarterback Kevin Craft (3) 45 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter .

 

TOKYO (Dec. 15)—Fujitsu running back Gino Gordon never dreamed he would rush for four touchdowns in the Japan X Bowl. Heck, with a potential shootout on tap from the game’s two high-profile American quarterbacks, he wasn’t even sure he would he would get that many carries.

 

But Gordon got his number called more than enough times to score four of Fujitsu’s five offensive touchdowns, leading the unbeaten Frontiers to a 44-10 victory over the IBM BigBlue and their first-ever league title in six trips to the championship game.

 

“Up to now we had a number of chances [to win the title], but we weren’t able to pull it off,” said Fujitsu head coach Satoshi Fujita, who was at the helm in four of the Frontiers’ previous title game losses over the last seven years. “I’m really happy.”

 

With the victory before 25,085 at Tokyo Dome, the Frontiers get the chance to play for the national title in the Rice Bowl on Jan. 3, when they return to the same venue to face the collegiate champion Kwansei Gakuin University Fighters.

 

While Gordon was turning in an MVP-winning performance, rushing for 112 yards on 17 carries, the Fujitsu defense was tormenting IBM quarterback Kevin Craft, who threw three interceptions—the first of which was returned 45 yards for a touchdown by defensive back Shinya Miki on the first series of the game.

 

Austin Flynn had three of Fujitsu’s six sacks and Al-Rilwan Adeyami had an interception as the Frontiers forced five turnovers overall, four of which led to Fujitsu touchdowns, while also blocking a field goal attempt. In contrast, the offensive line allowed just a single sack, by defensive end James Brooks.

 

“They’re a great team and you’ve got to be careful about what they do because of that hurry-up tempo,” Flynn said. “But our goal was to get as much pressure as we can, force him to get outside the pocket for us to chase him down, cause little errors to happen. A lot of big errors did happen.”

 

Both Fujitsu quarterback Colby Cameron and Craft suffered injuries and were not around for much of the second half. But by then, Fujitsu had the game firmly in hand, although both back-ups did credible jobs.

 

Cameron completed 13 of 21 passes for 115 yards, but injured his right shoulder when he landed on it during a tackle just before halftime, which the Frontiers went into leading 23-7. He never returned, but Keiya Hiramoto stepped up and went 6 for 9 for 106 yards and a touchdown.

 

Cameron, a former star at Louisiana Tech in his first year at Fujitsu, was more than happy to allow Gordon and the ground game seize the spotlight.

 

“We knew coming in they played a lot of two-safety look,” Cameron said. “Against a two-safety look, you have to be able to run the ball. It makes it tough on quarterbacks to try and drop back and throw when they’re dropping seven guys. So [offensive line] coach Grant [Johnson] all week did a great job of prepping for this team and our whole line really stepped up again.

 

“Obviously our running backs did a great job. Gino, the leader of the pack, did an awesome job. It’s fun to see that.”

 

Craft, who also had three interceptions in IBM’s 41-13 loss to Fujitsu in their East Division clash in October, completed 23 of 40 passes for 235 yards. He limped off the field with a left knee injury midway through the third quarter, and would return only briefly.

 

“I think a couple of times I was hurried into making throws that I didn’t want to make,” Craft said. “I wasn’t stepping into my throws. Part of that’s from the pressure, and part of that’s from just being banged up.”

 

Backup Satoshi Tagawa came in and completed IBM’s lone scoring drive of the second half, which resulted in Genki Odakura’s 45-yard field goal. Tagawa completed 9 of 10 passes for 82 yards, but also lost a fumble that Fujitsu converted into its final touchdown.

 

After Fujitsu raced to a 16-0 lead less then eight minutes into the game, the IBM defense began to contain the Frontiers. Starting on the final play of the first quarter, Craft engineered his lone scoring drive, taking the BigBlue 80 yards in 10 plays and hitting Michihiro Ogawa with a 5-yard touchdown pass.

 

It looked like the momentum might swing IBM’s way when nose guard Yoshiaki Fujii stopped Cameron for a 2-yard loss on a 4th-down gamble at the IBM 33. But after gaining 30 yards in two plays, Craft and his intended receiver mixed signals and the former UCLA starter underthrew him, allowing Adeyami to grab an easy interception, which he returned to the IBM 46.

 

“I thought we had them there for a minute, and then it got away, turned the ball over again,” Craft said. “That’s just football.”

 

Adeyami, who played at San Diego University, said the Fujitsu secondary did a good job of disguising its coverage against Craft, a skill they honed by facing Cameron in practice.

 

“We played what we played all year, we just disguised it better,” he said. “He has a lot on his plate in terms of reading the defense, making the play call and running on a fly. So if we’re able to hold our calls early, and then disguise and go into something late, that might throw him off.

 

“Having a good quarterback like Colby in practice, he’s just sitting back there picking us apart, so we have to disguise in practice as well as we disguised for Kevin.”

 

Cameron then completed three straight passes for 31 yards, then Gordon ran for 13 before scoring from the 2 for his second touchdown of the day to make it 23-7. On IBM’s next drive, Paul Yasui got his hand on Odakura’s 47-yard field goal attempt with 1:22 left in the half.

 

On the first drive of the second half  with Hiramoto behind center, Fujitsu stretched its lead when Gordon scored on a 5-yard run. The big play of the 8-play, 68-yard drive was a Hiramoto pass to Junpei Yoshimoto, who shook off a tackle by defensive back Shogo Nakatani and turned a minimal gain into a 23-yard one to put the ball on the 5.

 

Yoshimoto had been the hero of Fujitsu’s 27-17 semifinal victory over the four-time defending champion Obic Seagulls, which avenged a loss to them in last year’s Japan X Bowl.

 

IBM, which was playing in its first-ever Japan X Bowl, suffered a blow when it lost star wide receiver Takashi Kurihara, who was injured returning the ensuing kickoff. After an exchange of punts, IBM’s fate was all but decided when a fake field goal went awry and holder Keisuke Sugita’s poorly thrown pass was intercepted at the 3-yard line by Miki for his second pick of the day.

 

In the fourth quarter, Hiramoto connected with Sei Kyo on a 7-yard touchdown pass. After Takafumi Uragawa returned Tagawa’s fumble 29 yards to the IBM 30, Gordon put on a one-man show for his final score. The former Ivy League player of the year at Harvard ran five straight times, the last one for an 11-yard touchdown with 4:54 left.

 

“I wasn’t expecting four touchdowns,” Gordon said. “I wasn’t expecting that many carries to be quite honest with you. I figured it would be one of those games where they’re tossing the ball a good amount. When you have a guy like Colby Cameron, it’s pretty safe to assume that kind of stuff.

 

“It was a situation where coach Fujita said, I think we’re going to run the ball a little more, especially in the third and fourth quarter. We want to get the ball out of IBM’s hands and just continue taking up the clock. It gave me a good opportunity to run the ball.”

 

Fujitsu scored on its first two possessions following Miki’s interception return. Hidetetsu Nishimura kicked a 47-yard field goal and, on IBM’s first play from scrimmage, Urakawa picked off a Craft pass and brought it back 23 yards to the IBM 12. Gordon took it in from there around right end on the next play. The extra point was blocked by Brooks, leaving Fujitsu with a 16-0 lead.

 

“Once you get the ball rolling, it’s kind of hard stopping us,” Flynn said. “Especially when our defense is fired up.”

 

GAME NOTES….While it was Fujita’s first title at the helm of Fujitsu, he won two straight with the Asahi Soft Drinks Challengers in 2000-01. Across the field on Monday as IBM head coach was Shinzo Yamada, the star linebacker on that Challengers team…..Watching the game as a special guest of the Frontiers was former wide receiver Brad Brennan, a current college coach who had been instrumental in bringing the American players to Fujitsu….The margin of victory was the largest since the Kajima Deers crushed the Matsushita Denko Impulse 48-12 in 1997. Craft’s 235 yards passing was the sixth most in Japan X Bowl history.

 

—Ken Marantz for the X-League

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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