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TOP > What’s New > Deers ground Black Eagles for 2nd year in row

What’s New

Deers ground Black Eagles for 2nd year in row


For the second year in a row, the Kajima Deers opened the second stage with a big victory over the As One Black Eagles. But this one wasn’t as lopsided as the score might indicate.


Shohei Kato threw three touchdown passes to rookie Yasuhiro Miyamoto and the Kajima defense held As One to 151 total yards as the Deers broke open a close game in the second half for a 40-6 victory Saturday afternoon at Osaka’s Kincho Stadium.


Takuya Yamashiro completed what evolved into a rout with a pair of late touchdown passes in the fourth quarter and Daisuke Aoki kicked a pair of field goals for East Division champion Kajima (6-0), which mauled As One 55-7 last season when the Black Eagles made their second-stage debut.


This year’s game was much more competitive, with the first quarter ending scoreless after both teams missed a field goal and Kajima taking a slim 12-0 lead into halftime. As One (3-3) failed to take advantage of two scoring opportunities set up by long kickoff returns by Hiroshi Yamagami, with one ending in the missed field goal and the other in an interception.


“Looking at the video, my impression was that they are very strong on both the offensive and defensive lines, and their defense is solid, so the game was as I expected,” Kajima head coach Kiyoyuki Mori said. “But if we stuck with our game plan, I wasn’t concerned.


“The big problem was with the kicking game. We need to utilize our kicking game to get the momentum going our way, but they got the big returns, and we missed a field goal and an extra point, and that made things difficult for us.”


Kajima finally got on the scoreboard when Aoki kicked a 31-yard field goal midway through the second quarter. After Yamagami returned the ensuing kickoff to midfield, Koki Kato picked off a Kohei Tahara pass to give the Deers the ball back in good field position. A 40-yard run by Yoshinari Iwakura put the ball on the As One 5, where Shohei Kato hooked up for his first touchdown pass to Miyamoto, who finished with seven catches for 83 yards.


The Deers could have gone into halftime with a bigger lead, but were stopped at the 4 on their final drive of the second quarter and had to settle for Aoki’s 18-yard chip shot as time expired.


Kato connected with Miyamoto on a 2-yard touchdown pass 2:44 into the third quarter. As One got the break it needed when Ken Yanagi recovered a Yasuhiro Maruta fumble at the Kajima 47. The Black Eagles drove to the 2, where Makoto Okuno went over, cutting the Deers lead to 19-6.


But Kajima killed off any possibility of a comeback with the third touchdown from the Kato-Miyamoto combination, this one from 4 yards out. Yamashiro came on and completed all three of his passes, one a 1-yard touchdown pass to Naoki Maeda and another a 7-yard score to Yuto Fujimori.


As One’s Tahara was held to just six completions in 19 attempts for 46 yards.


“Kajima is a team whose players know how to win,” As One head coach Takao Yoshimasa said. “But our players had a different look in their eyes from last year, and were confident that they could accomplish want they aim for. Our main regret is that we had two good kickoff returns and made mistakes after both. If that didn’t happen, it might have been a different game.”


As One next faces Central Division runnerup Fujitsu, the losing finalist in last year’s Japan X Bowl, on Nov. 10. Kajima and Fujitsu will battle in the group finale on Nov. 18.


“[Fujitsu] has one loss, so they will be playing knowing their season will be over if they lose,” Mori said. “If we lose the emotional battle, we lose the advantage.”


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