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TOP > Game Report > Frontiers hold off Rise in defensive battle to capture East title

Game Report

Frontiers hold off Rise in defensive battle to capture East title


Fujitsu defensive back Shinya Miki (14) breaks up a pass to Nojima wide receiver Yuji Otaki in the second quarter.

























KAWASAKI (Oct. 20)—Colby Cameron threw his first interceptions of the season, and was held to less than 200 yards passing. His lone touchdown pass accounted for Fujitsu’s only score of the night.


But the Frontiers defense stepped and assured that they all walked off the field with a win and the East Division title.


Cameron connected with Takeshi Akiyama an 8-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter, and the defense made it hold up in a hard-fought 7-0 victory over the Nojima Sagamihara Rise before 2,725 at Todoroki Stadium.


“Our offense is a high-powered offense and a lot of the games, they’ll carry us,” said defensive back Al-Rilwan Adeyami, who led Fujitsu with five tackles. “But today, they needed some help and we provided that defensively.”


Defensive end Austin Flynn turned in his most productive game since joining the Frontiers just prior to the first game, recording three sacks and four tackles while batting down a pass as Fujitsu allowed the Rise to pass midfield only once—and that drive ended at the 41.


Punter Motoki Yoshida played a big role in the victory, as all five of his kicks put the Rise inside their own 20-yard line, and three times within the 10.  Both teams finished with 14 first downs, while Fujitsu had a marginal advantage in total yards, 289 to 219.


“Austin had a great game, and I think a lot of guys fed off his energy,” Adeyami said. “Our punter did a great job of putting our defense in a great position.”


The victory gave Fujitsu its second straight divisional title with a 5-0 record, while Nojima finished third at 3-2. In the second stage, the Frontiers will face the West Division runner-up Panasonic Impulse and the Asahi Beer Silver Star, who placed third in the Central Division. The Rise will face the West champion Elecom Kobe Finies and the Central runner-up and four-time defending league champion Obic Seagulls.


“It was a tough game,” Fujitsu head coach Satoshi Fujita said. “The Rise defense played well. We found things we need to correct, so that’s a good lesson for us.”


Fujitsu’s score came after the Rise’s lone turnover of the game, when quarterback Masato Kinoshita fumbled and Kenko Minami recovered at the Rise 48. Gino Gordon gained 26 yards with two runs and Cameron threw a 14-yard pass to Teruaki Clark Nakamura to put the ball on the 8. On the next play, Akiyama caught just his second touchdown pass of the season.


“He just did a really good job on the details of things,” Cameron said of Akiyama, who   caught five passes for 78 yards. “We talk every week about just doing the right stuff—coming back to the ball, finding holes—and that’s what he did today, which made him successful. They were playing a lot of zone defense and you have to find holes, and out of all of the receivers, he did the best job.”


Cameron, who finished 15 of 28 for 192 yards, threw his first interception of the season on the next drive, with defensive back Loka Kanongata’a making the pick at the Rise 9. Nojima moved the ball close to midfield, but consecutive sacks by Flynn killed the drive.


Fujitsu’s best chance to pad the lead came early in the second quarter, when Cameron drove the Frontiers from the 37 into Nojima territory. A 19-yard pass to Akiyama gave the Frontiers 1st-and-goal at the 1. After an incomplete pass and a Gordon run for no gain, Cameron’s pass into the end zone was intercepted by rookie linebacker Yoshiki Tanaka as he fell backwards.


“Both of them were bad decisions, especially down in the red zone, you can’t turn the ball over,” Cameron said of the interceptions. “I just have to do a better job and it will be good to correct it coming into the playoffs when the teams get tough.”


From that point, both defenses held firm. Nojima’s final drive ended with Flynn tackling Takashi Miyako for a 1-yard loss to force the Rise to punt, and the Frontiers ran out the final 3:12 to seal the victory. Nakamura, who also had five receptions, had a key 10-yard catch on 3rd-and-5 from the 34 and Gordon broke off a 21-yard run to keep the drive going.


“No matter what, I’m always pretty confident when our offense has the ball,” Cameron said. “Things weren’t clicking throughout the game, but our offense, we want the ball with a few minutes left. And to go down and get that big first down [on 3rd and 5], Clark did a good job staying in bounds.”


Kinoshita completed 19 of 25 passes for 163 yards, while Miyako rushed for 65 yards on 17 carries and caught seven passes for 37 yards.


—Ken Marantz for the X-League

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