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TOP > What’s New > Challengers weather Impulse storm to win Green Bowl

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Challengers weather Impulse storm to win Green Bowl


Challengers weather Impulse storm to win Green Bowl


KOBE (May 19)—Amid a driving rain and sloppy conditions, the Asahi Soft Drinks Challengers washed away any notion that their victory over the nemesis Panasonic Impulse last fall was a fluke.


Koji Hayashi scored on a 4th-down, 2-yard run in the fourth quarter, capping a Challengers’ rally in a 16-8 victory over the Impulse in the final of the Green Bowl tournament Sunday at Kobe’s Oji Stadium.


The victory gave Asahi Soft Drinks, which beat Panasonic 12-10 during the fall season, its first Green Bowl title in seven years and fifth overall in the spring tournament for the X-League’s West Division teams.

“Within aiming to become No. 1 in Japan, we set a goal of beating Panasonic in the spring,” Challengers head coach Hiroyuki Yabe said. “The particulars from the game were nothing to brag about, but we played well on the lines.


“The atmosphere on the team this year is good. We have clearly set our goals and direction, and we just want to get stronger.”


New Challengers quarterback Tomotsuna Inoue had a less-than-spectacular day trying to fight the elements, completing just 7 of 29 passes–but one was for a 60-yard touchdown to Tatsuya Kureta that put Asahi Soft Drinks up 9-8 midway through the third quarter.


The former Waseda University standou, who once earned an invitation to the NFL combine, threw for 169 yards and had two interceptions.


Panasonic veterans Tetsuo Takata and Koji Honda hooked up on a 70-yard touchdown strike, but the Impulse were hurt by three missed field goals and three turnovers. The offense was held to just 28 yards rushing.


In a sign that this would not be a typical game, the Impulse opened the scoring with a safety on the Challengers’ opening drive. After Inoue was sacked for an 8-yard loss to put the Challengers on their own 28, a high snap on a punt went into the end zone, where Kohei Nagao was tackled.


Panasonic lost the ball on its next two possessions, on a Takata interception and a bad snap on a punt that resulted in a fumble. The latter gave the Challengers the ball on the Impulse 21, but a fake field goal attempt was foiled and they remained scoreless.


After the Impulse’s Eita Saeki missed field goal attempts of 37 and 41 yards on consecutive series, the Challengers finally put together a scoring drive in the second quarter. Inoue completed two passes for 37 yards as the Challengers moved from their own 21 to the Impulse 23, where the drive stalled but they came away with Shinji Kageyama’s 40-yard field goal and a 3-2 lead.


Panasonic had a chance to regain the lead before halftime, but Saeki missed a 41-yard field goal with 39 seconds left.


The second half was grinding along when it took a sudden and exciting twist over a span of less that a minute. First, on 2nd-and-10 from the 30, Panasonic’s Takata found Honda alone and he took it all it the way. The Impulse went for two but failed, leaving them with an 8-3 lead.


The ensuing kickoff went out of bounds, giving the Challengers the ball on the 35. After a run and an incomplete pass set up a 3rd-and-5, Inoue and Kureta combined on their long-distance touchdown pass. The Challengers also went for 2, and also failed, to make it 9-8.


On their next drive that extended into fourth quarter, the Challengers moved to the Impulse 43. Although they were stopped there, a punt put the Impulse with their backs to the end zone at their own 7. An illegal block pushed them back to the 3.


On the next play, quarterback Takashi Ohara fumbled and defensive back Ryota Ikeda recovered at the 8. After a run was stopped for no gain and a pass fell incomplete, Inoue ran the ball to the 2. Facing fourth down, coach Yabe opted to bypass the field goal and go for the touchdown, which the Challengers got when Hayashi took a pitch around right end. The extra point made it 16-8 with 8:41 left.


From that point, the Challengers’ defense stood firm, limiting Panasonic to one first down in its final three series to clinch the victory.


Panasonic will now look to rebound when it faces college powerhouse Kwansei Gakuin University in the Kobe Bowl on June 9 at Oji Stadium.


In the Green Bowl consolation game earlier Sunday, Elecom Kobe’s new American quarterback Inoke Funaki made a sparkling debut, throwing his third touchdown pass of the game with 3:27 left to lift the Finies to a 31-28 victory over the As One Black Eagles.


Funaki, who started for the University of Hawaii in 2008, completed 21 of 37 passes for 296 yards with one interception. He also ran 11 times for 120 yards.


Rookie Hiroki Matsubara caught six passes for 92 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner, a 22-yarder.


As One quarterback Makoto Okuno also threw for three touchdowns, as well as running for one. He went 10 for 25 for 149 yards with two interceptions.















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