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TOP > What’s New > Frontiers rise to challenge to contain Anderson, remain unbeaten

What’s New

Frontiers rise to challenge to contain Anderson, remain unbeaten

’15.10.06

Fujitsu linebacker Shuhei Takeuchi returns a fumble for a touchdown in the second quarter.

 

 

 

KAWASAKI (Oct. 3)—Fujitsu got its first look at one of the new American quarterbacks in the league this season. And he got a first-hand look at what makes the Frontiers to favorite to repeat at league champion.

 

Colby Cameron completed 26 of 39 passes for 294 yards and two touchdowns and the Fujitsu defense limited the Nojima Sagamihara Rise’s new multi-threat import Ben Anderson to 144 total yards in rolling to a 37-10 victory at Fujitsu Stadium Kawasaki.

 

“When a new American or foreigner comes into the league, it’s a challenge for everybody how they’re going to approach the game and how they’re going to handle the game,” said Fujitsu cornerback Al-Rilwan Adeyami, who recovered one of two Rise fumbles.

 

“Our players had circled that game since the beginning of the season. Everyone knows what an American quarterback can do for your team. So for us, defensively, outside of going against our quarterback in practice, it’s a challenge to go against American quarterbacks. I think the guys really get up to play. And the coaches, they stay up late at planning for this. So credit to them for drawing it up and credit to the players for executing it.”

 

Linebacker Shuhei Takeuchi returned the other fumble for a touchdown and new linebacker Trasaun Nixon had two of Fujitsu’s five sacks as the Frontiers moved into the driver’s seat in the East Division with a 4-0 record going into their final divisional game against the Obic Seagulls on Oct. 17.

 

The Rise (3-1) had established themselves as a contender by pulling a surprise in the second week of the season, beating the Seagulls 23-20 in an overtime thriller. But on Saturday, they were limited to a 25-yard field goal from Kohei Mochizuki on the final play of the first half, and a short touchdown pass from Anderson to Ryota Shimodan in the fourth quarter.

 

“It was tough,” said Anderson, who completed 18 of 29 passes for 149 yards, while having minus-5 yards rushing on 19 carries. “We started off a little slow, then picked it up in the second half. But it was a little too late. I give it to them, they got a pretty good defense. They just played a better game than we did today.”

 

Wide receiver Junpei Yoshimoto, who caught six passes for 57 yards, also threw a touchdown pass on a trick play, and Gino Gordon had a 3-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter for Fujitsu, which last year scraped to a 7-0 win over the Rise in divisional play en route to its first-ever league championship.

 

If there was a downside to the Frontiers’ victory, it came during the first half, when Cameron and his receivers suddenly fell out of synch near the Rise goal line, or the receivers just flat out dropped sure touchdowns. On one drive, the Frontiers ended up having to settle for Hidetetsu Nishimura ‘s 27-yard field goal, and another resulted in an interception in the end zone.

 

Cameron, however, was unconcerned about the lapses, in which he had four straight incompletions after completing his first 13 passes of the game.

 

“It was miscommunication,” he said. “Everyone has signals and think they know our signals, so we change our signals every week. We’re good, no problem at all. It’s part of the game. Last year we scored seven points on these guys, and this year they got more Americans and we scored 37, so I’m not concerned at all. It was a good job.”

 

There was nothing to complain about Fujitsu’s opening drive, which Cameron engineered with clockwork precision and took a little more than half of the first quarter. Completing 7 of 7 passes, he marched the Frontiers 74 yards in 12 plays, capped by a 14-yard TD toss to tight end Yuji Mizuno.

 

In the second quarter, Cameron completed four passes, including a 33-yarder to Ryoma Narita,  that took the Frontiers from their own 26 to the Nojima 7. But after two passes into the end zone in which the receiver zigged while Cameron zagged, Sei Kyo let a third bounce off his hands and the Frontiers ended up with Nishimura’s field goal to make it 10-0.

 

On their next drive, Cameron scrambled for a 22-yard gain as the Frontiers drove from the 25 to the Nojima 10. A defensive holding call gave them a first down on the 3, but after an incompletion, Cameron split two receivers and threw an interception right to defensive back Takaya Ishiguro in the end zone.

 

But the Frontiers don’t stay down for long, and on the Rise’s third play, Anderson had the ball knocked out from behind and it landed in the hands of Takeuchi, who returned it 14 yards for a score with 1:07 left in the half.

 

That was enough time for Anderson, helped by a late hit penalty, to put Nojima onto the scoreboard before halftime—although it could have been seven points had Yoshinobu Imoto not dropped a pass in the corner of the end zone.

 

Trailing 16-3, Nojima received the second-half kickoff, only to give the ball back on the second play. There was a mix-up on the line and the snap never got to Anderson, and Fujitsu’s Adeyami alertly pounced on the loose ball at the Nojima 22. On Fujitsu’s second play, Yoshimoto took a handoff, stopped and connected wtih Narita on a 19-yard touchdown pass.

 

Nojima’s futility came out again on the ensuing possession, when Anderson engineered a drive to the Fujitsu 17. But after Keiko Minami sacked Anderson for a 12-yard loss, a delay-of-game penalty while lining up for a field goal knocked the Rise out of field goal range, and they ended up punting.

 

It wouldn’t be until the midway through the fourth quarter that Fujitsu would pad its lead, with Cameron connecting with Takeshi Akiyama on a 31-yard rainbow with 7:24 left. That score, it is worth noting, came one play after a wide-open Narita dropped a pass.

 

Over-exuperance on the part of the Fujitsu defense led to the Rise’s lone touchdown, as a roughing-the-passer penalty and consecutive pass interference calls put the ball on the Frontiers 2, where Anderson flipped a TD pass to Shimonda.

 

An onside kick gave Fujitsu the ball in Rise territory, and Gordon’s touchdown run with 2:10 left capped an 11-play, 46-yard drive that used up nearly four minutes.

 

For Adeyami, the key to containing Anderson was swarming and relentless pursuit by the defense.

 

“You have to understand what they do best, and defensively, you’re never going to take away 100 percent of what a team likes to do,” he said. “You just want to limit them.

 

“We knew what they did best was move the ball. They want to run the ball and throw underneath to keep the chains moving. What we were able to do was put pressure on him and make him throw the ball quickly and rally to tackle. And when we tackle, by the time someone hits him, by the time he spins out of it, two more people are in his face.”

 

Asked about the difference with last year’s low-scoring win, Cameron, in his second year with Fujitsu, said it was a matter of feeling more comfortable with the offense—and a better ability to communicate.

 

“Last year was the first time I saw their style of defense, so we had try to adjust during the game, and I did not know that much Japanese,” Cameron said with a smile. “So this year, we all are on the same page, which makes things very easy for us.”

 

—Ken Marantz for the X-League

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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