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TOP > Game Report > Cameron leads 2nd-half storm surge to lift Fujitsu over IBM

Game Report

Cameron leads 2nd-half storm surge to lift Fujitsu over IBM


Fujitsu wide receiver Sei Kyo celebrates after a 23-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter.




KAWASAKI (Aug. 29)—The miserable weather never got much better, but Colby Cameron’s accuracy did, as well as his receivers’ ability to hold onto the ball. That was the combination the Fujitsu Frontiers needed to pull away to a season-opening victory.


Cameron threw three touchdown passes in the second half and the Frontiers withstood a late surge from the Pearl Bowl champion IBM BigBlue to notch a stormy 29-24 victory at Fujitsu Kawasaki Stadium in the marquee matchup of the league’s first week.


“We won, so that’s important to start out with that,” Cameron said. “But I think the best thing for us was weathering the storm, literally and figuratively.


“The game was kind of messy on the offensive side. The balls, the rain. It was a good job that we were able to keep pushing through [against] the Pearl Bowl champs and show us what our team is kind of made of.”


With waves of rain sweeping in from an approaching typhoon during, the two teams combined for six of the game’s eight turnovers in a sloppy first half as IBM took a 7-6 lead into the break.


But Cameron, who finished 14 of 33 for 176 yards with two interceptions, led the Fujitsu comeback in the rematch of the 2014 Japan X Bowl, which the Frontiers won 44-10 for their first-ever league championship.


“For us, our offense, we try to have a good tempo and it can hit at any point,” Cameron said. “Sometimes we might roll in the first quarter, sometimes it might be six minutes left in the game. I think that we got into a rhythm in the second half that was good, we were able to hit a couple of shots deep.”


With the passing game having to battle the weather as well as the IBM defense, Fujitsu got a boost with the return of running back Gino Gordon, who saw his first action since suffering a serious leg injury in last season’s semifinals.


Gordon rushed 17 times for 94 yards, including 49 on two carries during Fujitsu’s final scoring drive, which culminated with Cameron’s 14-yard touchdown pass to Teruaki Clark Nakamura and gave the Frontiers a 29-10 lead with 4:48 left in the game.


“It was my first game in almost nine months, so I was little rusty and I was a little nervous,” Gordon said.


IBM, coming off a triumph in the spring Pearl Bowl for its first-ever major title, had to rely on rookie quarterback Yuki Masamoto as American Kevin Craft was still nursing a shoulder injury suffered in the spring.


Masamoto, out of Waseda University, capped a 10-play, 79-yard drive with a 6-yard touchdown pass to John Stanton for the first score of the game. But the weather and the swarming Fujitsu defense yielded little else until late in the fourth quarter, when Masamoto broke loose on a 57-yard touchdown run.


IBM recovered a fumble on the kickoff at the Fujitsu 17, and on the fifth play, Tomokazu Sueyoshi scored on a 6-yard run—giving him 100 yards on 15 carrries—to suddenly make it a one-score game with 2:25 left.


But Masamoto, who finished 16 of 22 for 126 yards and three interceptions, never got another chance as Fujitsu gained the two first downs necessary to kill the rest of the clock, securing a hard-earned victory in the first of several tough games it faces in this season’s revamped schedule that pits top teams against each other in the regular season.


Hidetetsu Nishimura kicked three field goals for Fujitsu. He might have had a fourth, but the holder lost the handle on the snap on a short attempt early in the third quarter.


Cameron’s first touchdown pass, an 18-yarder to rookie Yoshimasa Iwamatsu that gave Fujitsu the lead for the first time early in the third quarter, was set up by a 36-yard punt return by Yosuke Kamiyama. The second, a 23-yarder to Sei Kyo that made it 20-7, came after the Fujitsu defense stopped a fourth-down gamble at the Frontiers 41.


Nakamura’s TD reception in the fourth quarter made up for a tough day in which the normally sure-handed receiver dropped several passes. “I have to get better,” he said.


For Cameron, there was a silver lining to the drops. “At least I know they’re open, I think that’s a big part,” he said. “At least the scheme is working. We can correct passing drops, but we can’t correct a bad scheme.”


Cameron also put on a positive spin on his two interceptions—one of which was in the end zone and both of which were immediately followed by the defense’s picks of Masamoto passes.


“I was just not accurate, the balls got away, they came out ugly,” Cameron said. “I think that the read was correct if you look at the film. But it was just the ball not getting there, which we can correct.”


The game marked the debut on the IBM defensive line of Rykeem Yates, out of the University of Nevada, who along with defensive end James Brooks kept pressure on Cameron.


“Obviously, they were the better team today,” said Yates, who was credited with six tackles. “The score reflected that. We’ve got to get better.”


Brooks had a sack for a 14-yard loss, and helped cause one of the interceptions when he hit Cameron’s arm as he threw.


For Gordon, the victory bodes well for the season as the Frontiers aim to regain the crown they lost in last season’s Japan X Bowl to the Panasonic Impulse.


“I think it gives you a small glimpse of what we can do,” Gordon said. “But I really do believe that this is just the beginning for us. A lot of guys are just trying to get a feel for the offense against another opponent. We spend so much time in summer camp practicing against ourselves, so I think this is just the first step.”


The Frontiers will next face the Asahi Beer Silver Star, who started their season with a 34-0 victory over the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Dept. Eagles, on Sept. 11. The following Sunday, IBM will take on the Bulls Football Club. Both games are at Kawasaki.


—Ken Marantz for the X-League