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TOP > Game Report > Finies finish up historic run to West crown

Game Report

Finies finish up historic run to West crown


Elecom linebacker Rocky Alo recovers a fumble in the As One end zone in the second quarter.

























OSAKA (Oct. 19)—The last part of the road to a first-ever West Division championship  might not have been as smooth as the Elecom Kobe Finies would have liked. But they hung tough and made it through.


Tomomi Hase ran for a touchdown and Inoki Funake passed for two in the fourth quarter as Elecom pulled away to a 28-0 victory over the As One Black Eagles at Osaka’s Nagai No. 2 Stadium.


Linebacker Rocky Alo recovered a fumble in the end zone for the lone score of the first half for the Finies, who became the first team other than the Panasonic Impulse or Asahi Soft Drinks Challengers to win the West title in the league’s 19-year history.


The Finies, the surprise team of the league after shocking the Impulse and Challengers in their first two games, advanced to the second stage’s Super 9 for the first time. In each of the past three seasons, they lost to As One in the game to decide third place.


“AsOne did a good job of scouting us and we couldn’t get anything going,” Elecom head coach Ryota Kano said. “But we stuck it out and I’m glad we came out with a win.”


Funake, sharing the quarterbacking duties with Keijiro Kasuya, completed 3 of 5 passes for 44 yards, but did more damage on the ground, rushing for 92 yards on 11 carries for Elecom, which compiled 259 total yards.


Masahiro Kishi had two of Elecom’s four sacks as the defense held As One to 153 yards and forced two turnovers.


The defenses for both teams ruled early on, and it wasn’t until there was less than two minutes left in the first quarter that either team even picked up a first down—a combined seven series without moving the chains.


Elecom finally advanced into As One territory and drove as far as the 20, but came up empty-handed when Jun Matsuoka was wide right on a 37-yard field goal attempt.


The Finies threatened again in the second quarter when a short punt and 15-yard return put them on the Eagles 48. Funaki broke off a 35-yard run to put the ball on the 5, and Ryohei Kaneshiro moved it to the 1 on 2nd down.


But the As One defense put on a successful goal-line stand, stuffing Hase and Kaneshiro on successive runs to thwart another drive.


As fate would have it, the Finies would get their touchdown anyway. With As One’s back to the goal line, Koji Kato was stopped for no gain, and then Hiroshi Yamagami coughed up the ball, with Alo pouncing on it in the end zone with 1:38 left in the half.


As One started off the third quarter with a new fire, and Makoto Okuno engineered a drive from the 27 to the Elecom 7 that featured a 24-yard pass to rookie Ryohei Iwakami and was helped by a late hit penalty.


But on 3rd-and-1, Daisuke Kobayashi was stopped for a 1-yard loss, and Takayuki Nakanishi shanked his 25-yard field goal attempt to the left.


The Black Eagles got the ball back two plays later, when Jun Taguchi intercepted a Kasuya pass at the Finies 28-only to return it when Okuno’s pass hit off a receiver and was grabbed by defensive back Yuki Nakatani.


Taking over at their own 13, Funaki ripped off runs of 28 and 21 yards before Kasuya came in, hitting Masahiro Tonai with a 13-yard pass to set up a 1st-and-goal at the 2. After Kasuya gained a yard on the final play of the third quarter, Funaki was stopped twice short of the goal line before Hase took it in to put the Finies up 14-0.


As One, desperately trying to get back into the game, went for it on 4th-and-4 from its own 41, but came up two yards short. After an incomplete pass, Funoki connected with rookie Kakuto Hori on a 43-yard touchdown pass.


Another unsuccessful 4th-down gamble near midfield led the Finies’ final score, a 1-yard pass from Funoki to Masahiro Matsuda with :58 left in the game.








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