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 > Impulse hang on to edge Challengers in key West clash

Game Report

Impulse hang on to edge Challengers in key West clash


Panasonic wide receiver Tatsuya Tonka catches a pass for a first down in second quarter.


Kobe (Sept. 23)-Having surrendered the West Division title for just the second time in 15 years last season, the Panasonic Impulse took a big step toward getting it back on Wednesday with a victory that they nearly let get away.


Benjamin Dupree capped a pair of long scoring drives in the first half with touchdown runs, and Panasonic held on to edge the long-time rival Asahi Soft Drinks Challengers 14-7 at Kobe’s Oji Stadium in the feature matchup of the third round of games.


The Challengers recovered two fumbles in the fourth quarter, following the first with a 14-play, 58-yard drive that was helped by penalties and ended with Yuki Shirakami scoring on a 5-yard run to make it 14-7 with 2:56 left.


The second fumble came 46 seconds later and gave Asahi Soft Drinks the ball on the Impulse 49.  But on first down, defensive lineman Munekazu Shikama came up with a big play, nailing quarterback Yusuke Kano for an 11-yard loss.


Two runs gained just one yard, then a holding penalty pushed the Challengers back further. Facing a 4th-and-30 with the game on the line, a Kano pass fell incomplete, securing a third win for the unbeaten Impulse. The Challengers dropped to 2-1.


“In the first half, we were able to move the ball against the opponent’s aggressive defense, and we kept our composure on defense by holding them down,” Panasonic head coach Nobuyoshi Araki said. “But in the second half, we hurt ourselves with penalties and turnovers. It was an ugly victory.”


Tetsuo Takata completed 10 of 13 passes for 179 yards, while Tatsuya Tonka had eight catches for 146 yards for the Impulse. Dupree, who also lined up as quarterback at times, ran for 70 yards on 16 carries.


The Impulse got on the scoreboard on the opening drive of the game, using up 7:07 to march 80 yards in 12 plays with Dupree scoring from the 2. The drive included a 4th-and-1 gamble at the Challengers 28, with Hayato Araki bulling up the middle to get the yard needed.


Midway through the second quarter, the Impulse went on another long march—and again needed a fourth-down conversion to keep the drive going. After moving into Challengers territory, the Impulse faced 4th-and-2 at the 20 and, bypassing a field goal attempt, Dupree took it all the way to make it 14-0. Earlier, on 3rd-and-10 at the Impulse 25, Takata connected with Tonka for 22 yards.


In the second half, Dupree took some snaps at quarterback, completing 1 of 2 passes  but mainly handing off to Araki. Although it didn’t produce a sustained drive, it gives the Impulse options for the future.


“In college, he was an option quarterback,” coach Araki said of Dupree, who played for The Citadel. “I thought I would give him a shot in the second half.”


Meanwhile, well-placed punts by Shintaro Saeki forced the Challengers to twice start drives at their own 1-yard line. Asahi Soft Drinks got a break early in the fourth quarter when Dupree fumbled as he was taking a handoff and linebacker Masafumi Yoshioka recovered at the 42.


While Kano was completing 8 of 10 passes, the Challengers moved to the Impulse 17, where they faced 3rd-and-2. Shirakami broke free for 12 yards, then took it the final 5 yards on the next play to make it 14-7.


Asahi Soft Drinks went for an onside kick, but the ball went out of bounds. It looked like the Impulse were well on the way to victory, needing to kill just under three minutes. But Jun Yokota coughed up the ball and not only did the Challengers recover, the Impulse were hit with two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties during the scrum for the loose ball.


The 30 extra yards gave Asahi Soft Drinks the ball at the Impulse 49 with 2:10 left. But Shikama came up with his sack and the Challengers never mounted a sustained attack.


“Ah, I wanted to win. It’s really disappointing,” Challengers head coach Naohito Matsumoto said. “We may have started to come back, but as the challenger, we have strike first if we want to win. The opponent could afford to make mistakes,” he added, noting a difference in level not reflected in the close score.


—Translated from West Division staff report