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TOP > What’s New > Gordon’s flashy runs help Fujitsu clinch semi spot; IBM opens with rout

What’s New

Gordon’s flashy runs help Fujitsu clinch semi spot; IBM opens with rout

’14.05.19

KAWASAKI (May 17)—Like a flash, Gordon was here and then gone. Over and over again.

 

Gino Gordon put on a spectacular display of open-field running to break open a close game as the Fujitsu Frontiers ran away in the second half to a 48-7 victory over the Asahi Beer Silver Star to clinch a place in the semifinals of the Pearl Bowl tournament.

 

Gordon rushed for 183 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries as Fujitsu, which led just 10-7 at halftime, exploded for 38 second-half points to clinch the top spot in Block A with a 2-0 record. In the semifinals on June 7, the Frontiers will face the defending champion Lixil Deers in a rematch of last year’s final.

 

In the second game of the doubleheader on a hot Saturday afternoon at Kawasaki Fujimi Stadium, the IBM BigBlue launched their campaign in Block D with a 72-13 victory over the X1 newcomer Taiyo Building Management Cranes, who fared better than in the record-setting 111-0 trouncing they suffered at the hands of the Obic Seagulls two weeks ago.

 

Kevin Craft threw for 206 yards and four touchdowns as IBM amassed 613 yards of offense to overwhelm the Cranes, who showed impressive grit and determination in the mismatch by putting together two sustained drives, both of which ended with touchdown passes from former IBM quarterback Takatsune Ishikawa to Yoshiyuki Naito.

 

Fujitsu, looking to win the Pearl Bowl title for the first time since 2010, followed up on its 93-0 win over the Hurricanes in its opener by wearing down a determined Asahi Beer team with relentless play on both sides of the line before the crowd of 1,243.

 

New quarterback Colby Cameron completed 20 of 27 passes for 208 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns, including one to main target Junpei Yoshimoto, who hauled in seven passes for 96 yards, while the defense forced five turnovers, two of which came right after Fujitsu itself had lost the ball.

 

“It was fun, it’s just a learning experience always,” Cameron said. “It was good having some hiccups, seeing our team keep working through it. I think it’s good in general for the psyche of the team, knowing that we can get through some tough stuff.”

 

The Frontiers got the spark they were looking for from Gordon, a former Ivy League player of the year at Harvard in his second season in Japan. Pinned back at their own 2-yard line midway through the second quarter while leading 3-0, Gordon ripped off a 24-yard run on first down. After a 20-yard Cameron pass to Yoshimoto, Gordon then scampered for 45 yards to the Silver Star 11. Three plays later, Keita Takanohashi scored from the 1.

 

“At the end of the day, if the offensive line is doing a good job on the front five, I can handle the safety,” Gordon said of his slick moves that left would-be tacklers in his wake. “That’s the job of the running back—you’re not very much use if you can’t beat the safety. It’s one of those things I’ve been teaching our running backs.”

 

Asahi Beer made it 10-7 just before halftime with a 6-play, 50-yard drive that started with 2:00 left on the clock and ended with Kazuma Ando’s 10-yard touchdown pass to Yuta Hayashi with :29 remaining. Ando completed 4 of 5 passes during the drive.

 

After Hidetetsu Nishimura kicked his second field goalf of the game, a 29-yarder, on Fujitsu’s first drive of the second half to make it 13-7, the Flash Gordon Show really got going. Starting at the 24, Gordon gained 24 yards on the first play, then went the final 45 yards on the second, capping the run with a front flip into the end zone.

 

“I’m not much of a power guy, even though I’m a little bit bigger [than average],” said the 1.78-meter, 85-kilogram Gordon, who broke his share of tackles as well. “But I like using my moves and I like using my speed.”

 

Linebacker Yuji Aoki’s interception on the ensuing drive led to Gordon’s second touchdown, a 7-yarder that featured a nifty cutback to make it 27-7  with 2:21 left in the third quarter .

 

The Silver Star got a break when they recovered a fumbled punt on the Fujitsu 25 on the final play of the third quarter, only to give the ball back when quarterback Hayato Arima coughed it up while being sacked. Defensive lineman Ryo Furuki picked up the fumble and returned it to the Silver Star 48. From there, Cameron needed just two passes to add to the lead, the second a 10-yarder to Yoshimoto in the end zone.

 

Cameron added his second TD toss, hitting Tomaki Ohashi from 14 yards out to complete a 10-play, 74-yard drive in which the former Louisiana Tech star completed 7 of 7 passes. Kei Goto’s 14-yard run with 2:55 left completed the scoring.

 

Gordon said that while the victory was not perfect, it was a positive step in the building process for the team.

 

“I think this was a good next step,” he said. “I don’t think we’re quite yet where we can be, and where we should be. As a program, it’s nice to see us stepping up against adversity and better competition.”

 

Cameron, who set an NCAA record for consecutive attempts without an interception, could only shake his head and laugh when asked about throwing his second of the tournament. It came on Fujitsu’s first drive, but to be fair, his pass bounced off a receiver’s hands.

 

“Just getting them out before the fall season,” he said. “I’m going to be positive about it. You never want to throw picks, but I think that’s the great thing about this spring season, you can correct the mistakes and really focus on the film for the fall.”

 

In the end, the pick was negated when Fujitsu defensive back Akito Tanaka corraled a tipped Ando pass at the line for an interception of his own. Fujitsu, with the help of a successful fake punt, converted the turnover into a 46-yard field goal by Nishimura.

 

—Ken Marantz for the X-League

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