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TOP > Game Report > Miyako carries Rise to historic win over Finies

Game Report

Miyako carries Rise to historic win over Finies

’14.11.02

Rise running back Takashi Miyako breaks away on a 55-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TOKYO (Nov. 1)— On a rainy Tokyo afternoon, Takashi Miyako found more than enough daylight to turn in a record-setting day and lead the Nojima Sagamihara Rise to an historic victory.

 

Miyako rushed for a whopping 293 yards, including three long touchdown runs, and the Rise routed the Elecom Kobe Finies 41-14 in their second-stage opener to become the first ever third-place team to defeat a division champion since the split season was adopted in 2009.

 

“They made it through as the No. 1 team in Kansai, so they were a team with momentum. We didn’t want to let them go at their pace,” said Miyako, who helped do that by breaking free on touchdown runs of 55, 83 and 30 yards among his 18 carries.

 

Miyako, who said he recalled having a 200-yard game while at Chuo University, also had several runs of over 10 yards as his total shattered the previous best for the second stage, set by the Rise’s Masatoshi Sugihara when he ran for 188 on 10 carries against the As One Black Eagles in 2012.

 

Yohei Hosono had a pair of short touchdown runs in the second half to help put the game away, while defensive end Tavita Woodard had one of two interceptions and blocked a punt for the Rise, who finished third in the East Division behind the Fujitsu Frontiers and IBM BigBlue.

 

“We’re real excited,” said Woodard, in his first season in Japan out of Hawaii University. “Throughout practice, we really strive to force turnovers and get a lot of 3-and-outs. And I think we executed today. We played light’s out. I’m just happy for the W.”

 

The Finies won their first-ever West Division title this season after opening with victories over the two Kansai powerhouses, the Panasonic Impulse and Asahi Soft Drinks Challengers. But they were overmatched before the crowd of 1,072 that braved the rain at Tokyo’s Amino Vital Field.

 

Elecom quarterback Inoke Funaki was constantly on the run under fierce pressure from the Rise front line, and wasn’t helped by a number of dropped balls. He completed 28 of 48 passes for 295 yards and two touchdowns, while running for 59 of the Finies’ 79 yards on the ground.

 

Tavita, who had one of the Rise’s two sacks, spent much of the afternoon chasing the slippery Funaki.

 

“Watching film, he didn’t flash a lot of smoothness and shiftiness, until today,” Tavita said. “I really shocked because on film, I didn’t see it. But hat’s off to him, he’s a good quarterback and it’s a good football team.”

 

While the Rise defense kept the Finies bottled up most of the game, the offense took awhile to get in gear on the wet field. The 166-centimeter Miyako broke the ice by breaking away for his first touchdown late in the first quarter.

 

On a 3rd-and-3 at the 45, Miyako took a pitchout to the right, cut back and found a seam up the middle, then outraced the secondary to the end zone. “I could see it was open the moment I got the ball,” Miyako said.

 

On the first play of the second quarter, a low snap on a punt gave Tavita time to get close enough to get his hand on Jun Matsuoka’s kick, giving the Rise the ball on the Finies 31. The Rise got as far as the 5, where Shin Idezawa kicked a 25-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead.

 

The Finies had a chance to get back into the game when they put together their first and only sustained drive of the first half. Starting at their own 18, Funaki completed four of five passes to Kenji Tsunekane for 48 yards and ran for 14 himself to get the ball to the Rise 20.

 

Facing a 4th-and-3 at the 13, the Finies went for it, and Funaki connected with Yuji Saeki for seven yards. But on the next play, his pass was tipped into the air at the line, and came down into the hands of Woodard at the 2.

 

A pair of runs, including a 12-yarder by Miyako, moved the ball out to the 17. On the next play, Miyako took another pitchout, this time to the left, and dashed down the sideline. Picking up a downfield block by Yu Nakada, he went untouched into the end zone for a 17-0 lead with 6:43 left in the second quarter.

 

Funaki made an ill-fated decision on the next drive when he tried to flip the ball to a receiver as he was being tackled by Shugo Suzuki. The pass went straight to linebacker Yoshiki Tanaka near midfield. But the Rise were unable to capitalize, as Idezawa’s 25-yard field goal attempt bounced off the right upright.

 

On the Rise’s first possession of the second half, Miyako scored his third touchdown,  this time going up the middle on a 30-yard run.

 

Elecom finally got on the scoreboard later in the third quarter, when the Finies again gambled on a fourth down and it paid off. After Funaki was forced out of bounds for a 4-yard loss to set up a 4th-and-goal at the 5, he found Masahiro Tonai in the middle of the end zone.

 

But Nojima replied with an 8-play, 76-yard drive that culminated with Hosono’s 2-yard touchdown run with :15 left in the third quarter to make it 31-7.  After a desperate Elecom failed on 4th-and-5 from its own 38, Hosono added his second TD, this time going over from the 1.

 

Idezawa kicked a 37-yard field goal and Funaki threw a 45-yard touchdown pass to Tsunekane with 4:44 left to complete the scoring.

 

By finishing 3-2 in divisional play, Nojima’s fate in regard to making the semifinals is not in its own hands. The Rise not only have to defeat Panasonic in their next game on Nov. 9, they need for one of the other division champions to lose a game.

 

The powerful showing against Elecom only adds to the sting of the Rise’s two close losses, 30-21 to IBM and 7-0 to Fujitsu.

 

“It was tough,” Woodard said. “We were going into both games thinking we were going to win. We always have that mindset. But things happen. We just have to bounce back next week.”

 

While no third-place team had beaten a first-place team before Saturday’s game, there were four instances of one beating a second-place team. In consecutive years in 2012 and 2013, IBM defeated Nojima and the Asahi Beer Silver Star beat Asahi Soft Drinks.

 

—Ken Marantz for the X-League.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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