富士通フロンティアーズ LIXIL DEERS アサヒビールシルバースター 東京ガスクリエイターズ 警視庁イーグルス 富士ゼロックスミネルヴァAFC
オービックシーガルズ IBM BigBlue ノジマ相模原ライズ オール三菱ライオンズ 明治安田PentaOceanパイレーツ BULLSフットボールクラブ
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 クラブホークアイ
TOP > Game Report > BigBlue get over Rise before home crowd

Game Report

BigBlue get over Rise before home crowd



YACHIYO, Chiba (Sept. 27)—Ever since the Nojima Sagamihara Rise started playing in the top tier of the X-League in 2011, they have been a thorn in the side of the IBM BigBlue. On a windy Saturday before a “home” crowd, the BigBlue finally made the Rise feel their pain.


Kevin Craft threw his fourth touchdown pass of the game, a 1-yarder to Tomokazu Sueyoshi midway through the fourth quarter, and the BigBlue held off the Rise for an impressive 30-21 victory at Yachiyo Sogo Ground to take a 3-0 record into next week’s highly anticipated East Division clash with the Fujitsu Frontiers.


“It’s a great win. It’s totally the players’ effort, a team effort, and I’m just happy for the players,” IBM head coach Shinzo Yamada said. “Obviously, it wasn’t an easy win. Rise was a very good team, and I knew it wouldn’t be easy.”


The Rise were able to move the ball behind scrambling quarterback Masato Kinoshita, but the BigBlue defense stepped up when it needed to and forced Nojima to settle for five field goals by Shin Idezawa, including a 19-yarder after a successful goal-line stand late in the third quarter.


“Those are wins for us,” IBM defensive end James Brooks said of the field goals. “Those could have been five possessions with more points. So we came to the sideline every time with more confidence. They scored one touchdown. Our goal was to keep them out of the end zone for as long as we could.


“We knew Kevin and the offense would put up points. We knew if we just played with high energy and a great will to win, it would be an incredible day for us, and it was. It’s huge for us, it’s huge for our confidence and I just think we’re going to build from there.”


IBM, reversing last year’s 24-21 loss at the Rise’s “home” field in Sagamihara, got off to an explosive start before the crowd of 1,065, scoring touchdowns on three of its first four possessions to lead 20-3 at one point and 20-9 at halftime.


“The defense started a little slow and we couldn’t really get it going until the second half,” said Nojima defensive back Roka Kanongata’a, who had two interceptions. “We started picking it up at the beginning of the second half and it was good from there. But we just started off slow, 2o points right away. That just shot us in the foot right there.”


Nojima kept fighting and gradually chipped away at the lead, pulling to within two points when Takashi Miyako scored on a 2-year run to make it 23-21 with 10:16 left in the game. Brooks blocked Kinoshita’s pass on the 2-point conversion attempt to keep the Rise from tying the score.


But Craft, who completed 30 of 41 passes for 316 yards with two interceptions, engineered a 7-play, 65-yard drive that was capped by his short TD toss to Sueyoshi out of a unique formation. The BigBlue lined up with only three interior lineman in front of Craft, with everyone else split wide in two groups on either side. Craft threw across to Sueyoshi, who easily followed his blockers into the end zone to make it a two-possession game.


With 7:50 left, the Rise still had time for a comeback. They advanced to the IBM 43, but four straight Kinoshita passes fell incomplete, all but clinching the win for the BigBlue. The Rise’s final possession ended with Yuki Takayama picking off a Kinoshita pass at the IBM 25, the BigBlue’s second pick of the game. Kinoshita finished 20 of 40 for 262 yards, while also running for 58 yards on 12 carries.


IBM started the game by mixing up runs by Sueyoshi with Craft’s passes on the opening drive, efficiently marching 79 yards in eight plays to go ahead on Craft’s 1-yard touchdown pass to Michihiro Ogawa. After Rise replied with Idezawa’s 49-yard field goal, IBM came right back and scored again. On 3rd-and-13 from the Rise 40, Craft was forced to scramble before finding John Stanton in the back of the end zone. New defensive end Tavita Woodard blocked the extra point, leaving the score 13-3.


“We were running the ball early well, we spread them out,” Craft said. “I think they were respecting our passing game a little bit in the first half. We got ahead and tried to control the ball a little bit and still be aggressive. It was a team win, a good team victory.”


IBM’s Shogo Nakatani intercepted a Kinoshita pass on the next drive, only to have IBM return the ball  at the end of the first quarter when Sueyoshi lost a fumble at the Nojima 8 and linebacker Yoshiki Tanaka recovered.


IBM got the ball back on its 38 and drove to the Rise 13, with rookie Kohei Kajikawa catching his first career touchdown pass to make it 20-3. Idezawa then kicked field goals from 35 and 30 yards, the latter coming with :04 left in the first half following a Kanongata’a interception to send the teams into halftime with IBM up 20-9.


Nojima opened the second half the way they ended the first, with another Idezawa field goal, this time from 47 yards to cut the BigBlue’s lead to eight points. But IBM restored the lead to 11 on Genki Odakura’s 38-yard field goal. After the two teams traded punts, the BigBlue put on the goal-line stand that resulted in Idezawa’s 19-yard field goal.


“Other than a quarterback sack, that’s the funnest thing, a goal-line stand, force another field goal,” Brooks said. “It was just great for us. It kept building our momentum. We knew we weren’t scared of these guys, we played hard, we prepared so well.”


Stanton finished with seven receptions for 106 yards, while Ogawa had seven for 49.


In 2011, the year before Craft joined IBM, the Rise defeated the BigBlue 31-24 in a Central Division clash and went on to the first of three straight 4-1 seasons. IBM gained a measure of revenge in the second stage, storming to a 48-17 win—only to see the Rise advance to the semifinals anyway when they went on to beat the Panasonic Impulse. Last year, the BigBlue led 14-10 going into the fourth quarter when the Rise came back for the win.


“I think we came out a little bit more aggressive this year,” Craft said. “We weren’t trying to play the possessions. We didn’t have only four receivers like we had last year. So we were able to use more of our personnel, and that obviously worked to our advantage.”


—Ken Marantz for the X-League



IBM quarterback Kevin Craft throws a pass in the first quarter against Nojima.