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TOP > Game Report > Final Stage: Impulse repeat rout of Rise, earn 1st trip to X Bowl in 5 years

Game Report

Final Stage: Impulse repeat rout of Rise, earn 1st trip to X Bowl in 5 years


Panasonic running back Shun Yokota breaks away on a 54-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.




OSAKA (Nov. 29)—With running back Ben Dupree out with an injury, Shun Yokota needed to help pick up the slack. He more than did his part.


Yokota broke free on touchdown runs of 54 and 73 yards and the Panasonic Impulse exploded for 28 first-quarter points en route to a 45-17 victory over the Nojima Sagamihara Rise in their final-stage clash at Osaka’s Kincho Stadium.


Tetsuo Takata and Takashi Ohara each threw a touchdown pass, Masayoshi Nakamura returned an interception for a score and Masashi Hashimoto scored on a 1-yard plunge as the Impulse advanced to the Japan X Bowl for the first time in five years.


In the championship game on Dec. 14 at Tokyo Dome, Panasonic will face the defending champion Fujitsu Frontiers. The two teams met in the second stage last season, with the Frontiers winning 48-24.


Before the crowd of 1,754 on Sunday, Panasonic remained unbeaten by repeating its 36-0 victory over Nojima on the same field two weeks ago in the second-stage finale.


The Impulse gave an indication of the long afternoon awaiting the Rise on their first play from scrimmage, when Yokota broke through the line and shed no less than three tackles before heading down the sideline on a 54-yard touchdown run.


“Yokota has really raised his game coming into today,” coach Nobuyoshi Araki said. “The offensive line did a good job and this was the result.”


On Panasonic’s next possession, Takata engineered an 81-yard, seven-play drive that he capped with a 30-yard touchdown pass to Taiji Koyama. The next series saw the Impulse starting at their own 8, but on the sixth play, Yokota was at it again, taking the ball 73 yards to make it 21-0.


The shell-shocked Rise, switching quarterbacks from Ben Anderson to Masato Kinoshita, only put themselves into a bigger hole when Nakamura picked off a Kinoshita pass and brought it back 25 yards for touchdown with 2:19 still to go in the first quarter.


Another Kinoshita interception, this one by Yuya Washino, gave the Impulse the ball on the Rise 40. A drive that extended into the second quarter and included a 29-yard pass from Ohara to Tatsuya Tonka on 3rd-and-11 concluded with Hashimoto scoring from the 1 to make it 35-0.


Nojima, looking to somehow get back into the game, went back to Anderson, and he responded by getting the Rise onto the scoreboard with a  15-yard touchdown pass to Yuji Otaki. That was set up by a 45-yard completion to Yoshinobu Imoto.


The Rise added a 24-yard field goal by Kohei Mochizuki, but the Impulse matched that with Eita Saeki’s 31-yarder on the final play of the first half to go into halftime with a 38-10 lead.


“It would have been better if we could have gotten a touchdown or two earlier in the game,” Nojima head coach Takayuki Sunaga said.


Panasonic regained the momentum when Emory Polley returned the opening kickoff of the second half 63 yards to the Nojima 20. After two runs gained a yard, Ohara connected with Shohei Kishimoto on a 19-yard touchdown pass.


Anderson, who completed 22 of 40 passes for 313 yards, connected with Otaki for a second touchdown, this one a 51-yarder late in the third quarter to complete the scoring.


Nojima was aiming to make the Japan X Bowl for the first time in its fifth season in X1. For Panasonic, the game against Fujitsu will also be a rematch of the 2007 final, which the Impulse won 33-13 for the first of back-to-back titles. The West Division powerhouse has not won a championship since.


“We’ve been through a lot but we finally made it back,” Araki said.


—Translated from West Division staff report

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