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TOP > What’s New > Around the League: Wrapup of Week 1 Action

What’s New

Around the League: Wrapup of Week 1 Action



Asahi Beer running back Jonah Hodges makes a move before scoring on an 11-yard run in the first quarter against Fuji Xerox on Aug. 25 in Kawasaki.



Aug. 25

Asahi Beer Silver Star 20, Dentsu Caterpillars 8: New running back Jonah Hodges scored all three touchdowns, but Asahi Beer had to battle far more than expected to defeat Dentsu in the Caterpillars’ X1 debut at Kawasaki Stadium. Hodges ran for 130 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries, and caught one pass that he turned into touchdown. After Asahi Beer took a 7-0 lead on Hodges’ 11-yard run in the first quarter, Dentsu had a chance to tie the game before halftime, but dropped a pass in the end zone, then had a fourth-down gamble in the red zone batted down by defensive lineman Yoshiro Matsuo. In the third quarter, Hodges took an innocuous pass over the middle and bolted for a 43-yard touchdown, then broke free on a 54-yard run midway through the fourth. Dentsu avoided a shutout when former Kajima Deers quarterback Takuya Yamashiro, who completed 25 of 41 passes for 209 yards, threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Ryo Ito with 28 seconds left.


Panasonic Impulse 21, Elecom Kobe Finies 14: Ben Anderson scored on a 5-yard touchdown run and to cap a 10-point rally in the fourth quarter that allowed Panasonic to stave off upset-minded Elecom at Kobe’s Oji Stadium. Elecom’s two new imports on offense, quarterback Cody Sokol and wide receiver Anas Hasic, hooked up on a pair of short touchdown passes in the first half–sandwiched around an 80-yard touchdown burst by Panasonic’s Shun Yokota–to give the Finies a 14-7 lead with :34 left in the half. But a pass interference penalty on a last-ditch pass allowed Impulse kicker Shintaro Saeki to attempt a 51-yard field goal, which he made. Saeki added a 27-yarder early in the fourth quarter before 2017 league MVP Anderson’s run and trick-play 2-point conversion put the Impulse ahead of the first time. Elecom later drove to the Impulse 30, but defensive back Kei Obara broke up a fourth-down pass with 1:12 left to end the threat.  Sokol completed 32 of 53 passes for 264 yards.


Tokyo Gas Creators 43, Fuji Xerox Minerva AFC 6: Former Obic quarterback Ikaika Woolsey started his stint with Tokyo Gas by completing 14 of 18 passes for 162 yards and a touchdown, and newly imported running back Andre Whyte rushed for two scores in the first half as the Creators eased past Fuji Xerox at Fujitsu Kawasaki Stadium. Whyte scored on runs of 2 and 8 yards, Tokyo Gas recorded a safety, and Woolsey ran 1 yard for a TD and threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Yu Takaoka as Tokyo Gas pulled away to lead 30-0 at halftime. In the second half, Ryoma Sugawara broke free on a 46-yard touchdown run, while rookie kicker Yu Sekine booted a pair of field goals, the second a 55-yarder as time expired. Kento Sasa and Shunsuke Kayama hooked up on a 75-yard touchdown pass for the Minerva in the third quarter.


Aug. 26

Obic Seagulls 90, Bulls Football Club 3: It was back to the future as Obic reprised one of the biggest routs in league history, returning four punts and a kickoff for touchdowns to crush the Bulls at its “home” field in Narashino, Chiba Prefecture. Taku Lee rushed for three touchdowns and Skyler Howard, Asaki Mochizuki and Tomoki Chimura had one each as the Seagulls stuck strictly with the ground game–they did not throw a single pass. Aruto Nishimura had two of the punt returns for touchdowns, as well as taking back the second half kickoff 97 yards for a score. The defense, which held the Bulls to minus-15 yards rushing and 64 total yards, added a safety and Ryutaro Yamamoto’s 54-yard interception return for a touchdown. Rookie Kiyomasa Uchiumi kicked a 47-yard field goal for the Bulls in the fourth quarter.

In September 2014, prior to the revamping of the league format aimed at preventing such mismatches, Obic demolished the Bulls 100-0 to become the first team to score 100 points in a fall league game. The record for margin of victory was elipsed the following year when the IBM BigBlue whipped the Hurricanes 117-0.


Fujitsu Frontiers 41, IBM BigBlue 6: All X-League linebacker-turned-running back Trashaun Nixon sparkled in his backfield debut, rushing for three touchdowns and over 200 yards in the first half to lead defending champion Fujitsu to a romp over IBM in a rematch of last season’s Japan X Bowl at Fujitsu Stadium Kawasaki. Nixon scored on runs of 14, 3 and 1 yards, while piling up 214 rushing yards–all but 4 in the first half–on 17 carries, breaking countless tackles in ripping off eight runs of 10 yards or longer, including a 44-yarder. Michael Birdsong, filling the big shoes left by the departure of star quarterback Colby Cameron, completed 10 of 19 passes for 126 yards and one touchdown. Kazuki Takaguchi and Yuichi Kon, taking over the ball-handling duties for Nixon, each ran for a touchdown in the second half. IBM quarterback Kevin Craft made his fall season debut as a playing head coach, but was unable to see action after breaking his right wrist in practice last week. Yuki Masamoto completed 21 of 45 passes for 211 yards, including a 2-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. He also had an interception, and lost fumbles on IBM’s first two drives of the game.


Asahi Soft Drinks Challengers 41, Sidewinders 0: Second-year QB Alex Niznak threw for two touchdown passes and the defense recorded nine sacks as Asahi Soft Drinks routed X1 returnee Sidewinders in a turnover-filled season opener at Osaka’s Expo Flash Field. Defensive back Taisei Yamamoto returned the first of four interceptions of Sidewinders quarterback Ryuji Maeda 30 yards for a touchdown on the game’s first play from scrimmage. After the teams traded interceptions, Yutaka Tatsumi scored on a 38-yard run. The Challengers blocked a field goal attempt, after which Niznak connected with rookie running back Kenta Tezuka on a 21-yard touchdown pass for a 20-0 lead at halftime. The remaining Challengers’ points all came in the third quarter, when Niznak threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to new wide receiver Robert Earl Johnson II, Satoru Mori returned a punt 65 yards, and Tezuka scored on a 6-yard run. Niznak completed 12 of 18 passes for 260 yards with two interceptions, as the two teams combined for seven turnovers.


Nojima Sagamihara Rise 24, Lixil Deers 7: New quarterback Jimmy Laughlea ran for a touchdown and threw for 276 yards and another score as Nojima, purged of its Michigan connection, opened with a solid victory over Lixil at Fujitsu Stadium Kawasaki. Laughlea, brought in to replace former Wolverines starter Devin Gardner, completed 16 of 23 passes, with fellow newcomer and tight end Hayden Plinke making five receptions for 67 yards. Laughlea opened the scoring by diving over the goal line near the right sideline on a 10-yard run, but Lixil immediately replied with Shohei Kato’s 1-yard touchdown pass to Daichi Nishikawa. But from that point it was all Nojima, which got a 4-yard touchdown run from veteran Takashi Miyako to take a 14-7 lead at halftime. Laughlea threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Yuhei Yagi in the third quarter, and Kenta Suzuki booted a 36-yard field goal in the fourth. There were no turnovers in the game, but each team missed a long field goal attempt.


Nagoya Cyclones 23, AsOne Black Eagles 13: Naoki Ito threw two touchdown passes to Yosuke Nagai and Nagoya pulled off the upset of the opening round of games by defeating two-time wild-card team As One at Osaka’s Expo Flash Field. Defensive lineman Ringen Masaki blocked a punt and returned it himself 27 yards for Nagoya’s first score, and Ito and Nagai combined on an 8-yard touchdown pass with 1 minute left in the second quarter to put the Cyclones up 13-0 at halftime. After Masaki kicked a 19-yard field goal to pad the lead, the Black Eagles finally got on the scoreboard when rookie running back Yushiro Sakai’s 2-yard plunge capped a 16-play, 75-yard drive that included a 4th-down conversion. Ito’s 26-yard touchdown pass to Nagai made it a two-score game, and Nagoya’s recovery of an onside kick after Kohei Tahara’s 7-yard touchdown pass to Kazuki Kawabata sealed the victory. Sakai rushed for 92 yards on 13 carries, while Ito completed 14 of 22 passes for 169 yards with three interceptions.


Aug. 27

All Mitsubishi Lions 16, Meiji Yasuda PentaOcean Pirates 0: Ryosuke Ogata scored on a 16-yard run and Hayato Tanizawa was successful on three of four field goal attempts at All Mitsubishi held off one of its main Battle 9 rivals with a shutout at Tokyo Dome. The Lions scored on their first three possessions, with Tanizawa kicking field goals of 22 and 26 yards, followed by Ogata’s TD. The defense sent the Lions into halftime with a 13-0 lead when cornerback Taijiro Noguchi intercepted a Ryosuke Nishizawa pass in the end zone with 3:46 left in the second quarter. The Pirates kept the Lions from padding the lead, and had a chance to turn it into a one-score game when they drove to the Lions 17 early in the fourth quarter. But having earlier converted on 4th-and-9, Nishizawa’s pass on 4th-and-3 was batted down at the line to end the drive. All Mitsubishi then clinched the win when Tanizawa booted a a 34-yard field goal with 2:55 left in the game.




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