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TOP > What’s New > Panasonic repeats win over IBM, but in more dominant fashion

What’s New

Panasonic repeats win over IBM, but in more dominant fashion

’13.11.03

TOKYO (Nov. 2)—It was deja vu all over again for the Panasonic Impulse in their second-stage opener.

 

Same opponent. Same field. Same result.

 

One of the few differences was that the Impulse had star quarterback Tetsuo Takata back for this one, and what a difference he made. Thanks to him, the margin of victory was vastly inflated.

 

Takata completed 21 of 27 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns and rookie Shun Yokota rushed for two scores as the West Division champion Impulse crushed the IBM BigBlue 55-24 on an overcast Saturday at Tokyo’s Aminovital Field.

 

“I didn’t think we would score this many points,” Panasonic head coach Nobuyoshi Araki said. “They had some turnovers that led to points in the second half. I had hoped this would be a low-scoring game.”

 

As in last year’s 34-17 win at Aminovital, the Panasonic defense contained IBM’s record-setting quarterback Kevin Craft, holding him to 175 yards and two touchdowns on 16-of-25 passing. A year ago, Craft was a similar 18-of-30 for 178 yards and one TD.

 

“They did the same things they did last year and I think we did some things to prepare for that,” said Craft, who also had a 13-yard touchdown run with 17 seconds left in the game. “It’s just a matter of executing those things. It’s no mystery what they were doing. I think they have a good team, bottom line.”

 

IBM, which finished third in the Central Division after losing two games by a combined total of four points, spotted Panasonic a 17-point lead early in the game and trailed 24-10 at halftime.

 

After Takata threw his second touchdown pass of the game early in the third quarter, Craft made it a two-score game again with a 2-yard touchdown pass to John Stanton with 7:21 left in the period, giving IBM hopes of turning the tide.

 

Instead, Panasonic opened the floodgates by proceeding to score on its next five possessions, with 10 points coming after recovered fumbles on consecutive drives.

 

“They had the momentum from the start of the game,” Craft said. “I don’t think there was much of a change of momentum the whole game.”

 

Musashi Yoshida had a game-high nine receptions for 128 yards for Panasonic, while Taiji Koyama and Shohei Kishimoto each caught a touchdown pass. Rookie backup QB Yuma Nagayoshi and veteran Takatoshi Kobayashi both had 3-yard touchdown runs in the fourth quarter, and Eita Saeki kicked a pair of field goals.

 

The Impulse’s other points came from David Motu, a linebacker who also serves a rare second role as punt returner. He brought a short punt back 33 yards for a touchdown–his third of the season–in the first quarter.

 

“It was just all luck,” Motu said.

 

Against IBM, Motu lined up as a defensive end to add punch to the pass rush. It paid off as, while the defense did not record a sack, that was due more to the elusiveness of Craft than their inability to put pressure on him.

 

When the defense finally got Craft in its grasp early in the fourth quarter, Yoki Yamaguchi forced him to fumble and Hirotoshi Kanzui recovered at the IBM 11. Five plays later, the 37-year-old Kobayashi scored to make it 52-17.

 

“We worked on a lot of conditioning in the past week and our scout team did a lot of no-huddle offense, so that really helped us,” said Motu, in his first year out of Nihon University.

 

“We just have a lot of depth on defense and that always works out. We always preach ‘pursuit to the end’, so at least we did that well today. But that’s a good offense. To hold them to only 24 points, that was amazing for our team.”

 

Figuring that Panasonic would be expecting Craft to come out slinging, IBM opted for more of a running attack behind powerful tailback Tomokazu Sueyoshi, who rushed for 60 tough yards on 20 carries. But the Impulse welcomed that strategy. The least they had to deal with Craft, who threw for 1,264 yards in five division games this season, the better.

 

“They went with run plays and that helped us,” Araki said. “If they threw more, it would have been trouble. They built their attack around the run. We were lucky.”

 

Panasonic got the fireworks started early when Takata connected with a diving Koyama in the end zone for a 34-yard touchdown 3:39 into the game.

 

The Impulse were forced to punt on their next possession, but it was a beauty by Shinnosuke Kamo and was downed at the IBM 1. The BigBlue were forced to punt out of their own end zone, and Motu caught Shusei Hara’s short kick off a bounce and raced untouched up the middle for a touchdown.

 

Another fine Kamo punt put IBM on their own 3. But Craft led a drive to the Panasonic 27, only to see Genki Odakura’s 44-yard field goal attempt bounce off the left upright. Panasonic came back with a 39-yard field goal by Saeki to make it 17-0 at 8:16 of the second quarter.

 

One of the few Panasonic mistakes led to IBM’s first points. After a low snap in punt formation, Kamo was nailed for a 12-yard loss at the Impulse 5. On the next play, Craft connected with rookie Hirokazu Matsuo in the back of the end zone.

 

Takata responded by completing four straight passes for 40 yards during a nine-play, 65-yard drive that Yokota capped with a 13-yard touchdown run, making it 24-7 with 44 seconds left in the half. That, however, was enough time for Craft to get IBM into position for Odakura’s 48-yard field goal on the final play of the half.

 

“They have good players,” IBM head coach Shinzo Yamada said. “I think they utilized everybody really well on both sides of the field and special teams.”

 

Eliminated from final stage contention, IBM will next try to play a spoiler role when it faces the East Division runner-up Kajima Deers on Nov. 10 in Kawasaki. Panasonic, aiming to get back to the Japan X Bowl for the first time since 2010 and win its first title since 2008, will conclude second-stage play against Kajima on Nov. 17 at Osaka’s Nagai Stadium.

 

—Ken Marantz for the X-League

 

 

 

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