EAST
富士通フロンティアーズ IBM BigBlue アサヒビールシルバースター オール三菱ライオンズ 明治安田PentaOceanパイレーツ 電通キャタピラーズ
CENTRAL
ノジマ相模原ライズ LIXIL DEERS オービックシーガルズ 富士ゼロックスミネルヴァAFC 東京ガスクリエイターズ BULLSフットボールクラブ
EAST
パナソニック インパルス エレコム神戸ファイニーズ アサヒ飲料チャレンジャーズ アズワンブラックイーグルス 名古屋サイクロンズ サイドワインダーズ
TOP > What’s New > Obic runs wild to foil KGU again, win record 4th straight Rice Bowl

What’s New

Obic runs wild to foil KGU again, win record 4th straight Rice Bowl

’14.01.04

Obic’s Takuto Hara scores the second of his two touchdowns on a 9-yard run in the third quarter.

TOKYO (Jan. 3) — The Obic Seagulls didn’t exactly run away with their record fourth straight Rice Bowl victory. But a change in the game plan to a run-oriented attack certainly paved the way for a solid win.

 

Takuto Hara rushed for 114 yards and two touchdowns, and Takuya Furutani also had a 100-yard game as Obic denied the Kwansei Gakuin University Fighters a national title for the third consecutive year with a 34-16 victory at Tokyo Dome.

 

Quarterback Shun Sugawara threw for one touchdown and ran for another, but otherwise had an unremarkable day that included two interceptions as he relinquished the MVP award he had won the past three years to Hara. Yosuke Kaneoya kicked a pair of field goals.

 

“The opponent’s defense was geared toward stopping the pass,” said Hara, who had touchdown runs of 12 and 9 yards among his 17 carries. “If we didn’t get something going with the run, we would have lost. It’s good we could do it.”

 

With Obic’s win before the crowd of 29,564, X-League teams have now won nine of the last 10 games since the Rice Bowl has pitted the corporate and collegiate champions for the national title starting in 1984. The corporate teams lead the series 19-12.

 

In addition to its unprecedented fourth win in a row, the Seagulls extended their record of overall titles to seven. Nihon University, the only other team to have won three straight (1989-91), and Kyoto University are tied for second-most with four.

 

Kwansei Gakuin, whose lone title in a record 10 appearances came in 2002, kept Obic from pulling away behind a standout performance from junior quarterback Kei Saito, who completed 33 of 50 passes for 318 yards and one touchdown. He had one interception.

 

“I watched the film [of him] and I understood he had a good arm and good footwork, but after today’s game, I feel his level is higher,” Obic head coach Makoto Ohashi said. “His arm is so strong, he’s mentally so strong. He’s a very good quarterback. He’s just a junior. Very dangerous.”

 

Of Obic’s three wins over the Fighters, this was by far the most comprehensive and least dramatic. Two years ago, the Seagulls trailed going into fourth quarter before winning 38-28, then needed a miraculous finish to pull out a 21-15 win in last year’s game on a Furutani touchdown with 10 seconds left.

 

“It feels good, not only to win, but to put a little bit of distance between us and them, being that the game last year was kind of close,” said Obic defensive end Kevin Jackson, who had two of the team’s four sacks. “We wanted to prove we were clearly better than them. I think we did a good job.”

 

One place where the Seagulls absolutely dominated was on the offensive line, where center Frank Fernandez, guards Masashi Fujita and Yusuke Yamamoto and tackles Kai Maiava and Atsushi Horo opened gaping holes for Hara and Furutani, and kept Sugawara safe in the pocket.

 

“The OL did a great job of blocking for me,” Hara said. “That’s the reason [I became the MVP].”

 

It was because of the beefy quintet’s performance early on that offensive coordinator Hajime Tominaga began throwing more running plays into the mix than usual.

 

“The original plan was to be a little bit more aggressive, with more of a passing attack,” Ohashi said. “Watching the game in the first half, our offensive line did a good job, on the pass protection, too. That’s why [we thought], ‘OK, we can try the running plays.’”

 

Ohashi said Tominaga simplified the game plan with runs and quick, play-action passes. “He made a very good decision,” Ohashi said.

 

Of Obic’s 464 total yards, 265 came on the ground, with Furutuni finishing with 126 yards on 14 carries. Sugawara completed 12 of 26 passes for 199 yards.

 

“They had an amazing game today,” Jackson said of the two running backs. “I didn’t expect that because we’re a ‘pass-first’ team most of the time. It caught me by surprise. But if it’s working, stick with it.”

 

Exemplifying Obic’s mastery of the running lanes was its first drive of the second quarter, when the Seagulls marched 81 yards in eight plays to take a 14-7 lead.

 

Hara started the drive with a 15-yard run, and Furutani followed with 12- and 13-yard gains. A 25-yard pass from Sugawara to Akimitsu Mori put the ball on the Fighters 12, from which Hara went straight up the middle,  plowed over two would-be tacklers at the 3 and barreled into the end zone.

 

Much of Hara’s and Furutani’s yardage came on second efforts in the Kwansei Gakuin secondary, where they were rarely brought down by a single defender.

 

“We couldn’t stop their running game,” Kwansei Gakuin head coach Hideaki Toriuchi said.

 

Obic opened the game with an 8-play, 57-yard scoring drive, capped by Sugawara’s 17-yard touchdown pass to Ryoma Hagiyama on 3rd-and-13.

 

Kwansei Gakuin, which had waited a year for another shot at the champions, was not to be easily discouraged and quickly struck back. Starting at the 19, Saito threw a 19-yard pass to speedster Hiroyuki Umemoto, then connected for 50 yards with Takato Kido. A personal foul on the play put the ball on the Obic 6, and Satoshi Sagino then went off right tackle untouched into the end zone to tie the score.

 

After a squib kick on the kickoff hit off two Seagulls before Obic finally fell on the ball, the Seagulls lost possession on the next play. Sugawara underthrew a bomb and defensive back Yudai Tanaka grabbed the first of his two interceptions. But the Fighters were unable to take advantage and the first quarter ended tied 7-7.

 

After Hara’s first touchdown put the Seagulls up 14-7,  they were threatening again when Tanaka picked off another underthrown Sugawara pass at the Fighters 10. Again, Kwansei Gakuin couldn’t convert and Obic got the ball back with enough time for Kaneoya to boot a 25-yard field goal to end the first half.

 

On the opening drive of the second half, the Fighters cut the lead on Junya Miwa’s 31-yard field goal, but Obic came back with Hara’s 9-yard touchdown run — again up the middle — to make it 24-10.

 

Saito drove Kwansei Gakuin to the Obic 10 on the next drive, but on 3rd-and-3, Jackson sacked him for 9-yard loss, then Miwa was wide right on a 37-yard field goal attempt.

 

Obic then began sounding the death knell by going 80 yards in five plays, with Sugawara going the final yard on a QB sneak on the first play of the fourth quarter to make it 31-10.  The big play of the drive was a 53-yard pass from Sugawara to Hagiyama, while Hara nearly had his third TD when he rambled nine yards to put the ball on the 1.

 

Any hope for the Fighters repeating Obic’s miracle of last year pretty much ended when Yuichi Watanabe picked off a Saito pass at the Obic 4. During the drive, the Fighters twice gained first downs on fourth down, once on a fake punt.

 

Kaneoya kicked a 31-yard field goal to cap a drive that ate 7:15 off the clock, and the Fighters gained some consolation when Saito and Umemoto, who caught eight passes for 90 yards, connected on an 11-yard touchdown pass with 1:19 left. A two-point conversion attempt failed, leaving the score 34-16.

 

The Fighters were dealt a setback before the game, when a number of players and staff were late arriving because the Shinkansen was temporarily halted due to a fire near Tokyo’s Yurakucho Station. None of the starters were affected, and it was apparent that the squad lost none of its intensity.

 

“At the press conference, Kwansei kept referring to ‘three times a charm,’” Hara said. “I think they put together a plan over this year with the sole purpose of beating Obic. They were going to do whatever it takes to win. Of course, during the game their energy was high. I could see why they were the college champions.”

 

Kwansei Gakuin had mixed results with the trick plays it used to such great success in last year’s near upset. Two of three fake punts resulted in first downs (punter Mitsuhiro Izu completed 2 of 2 passes for 31 yards and ran for 10 yards), but a lateral off a completed pass resulted in a 5-yard loss. An attempt at deception on a kickoff return ended with the returner getting smothered at the 9-yard line.

 

The Seagulls, whose other titles came in 1997, 1999 and 2006, have not lost in the fall season since being defeated 23-20 to the Panasonic Impulse in the 2009 second stage. But this might have been their most challenging season in their four-year run, as they often had to dig deep to scrounge out tough victories.

 

“It’s special because it felt like this team, some years it felt like we got all of the bounces,” Jackson said. “This year, it felt like we really had to work hard for it.”

 

— Ken Marantz for the X-League

 

 

 

 

 

 

関連記事
  • 朝日新聞デジタル:アメフット・ニュース - スポーツ
  • 川崎市
  • 一般社団法人 日本トップリーグ連携機構
  • toto公式サイト
  • nikkansports.com
  • 水道筋ゑびす.com
  • NFAオフィシャルサイト
  • 株式会社大澤都市開発
  • A-cial Design
  • 競技強化支援事業
  • PR TIMES
  • トビタテ!留学JAPAN
  • 競技強化支援事業助成金
    Xリーグの開催は、トップリーグ運営助成を受けて実施しています。
ページトップへもどる