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 > Saeki boots Impulse to win over West rival Challengers

Game Report

Saeki boots Impulse to win over West rival Challengers



Panasonic’s Eita Saeki kicks the second of his 51-yard field goals, and fifth of the game, in the fourth quarter against Asashi Soft Drinks.



OSAKA (Aug. 29)—The Panasonic Impulse certainly got their kicks in taking the first step toward defending their X-League title.


Eita Saeki kicked five field goals—including two 51-yarders— as the Impulse chalked up a 22-7 win over longtime West Division rival Asahi Soft Drinks Challengers in their season-opener at Expo Flash Field.


Emory Polley returned a punt 55 yards in the first quarter for Panasonic’s first points and lone touchdown of the game that had previously been the finale of divisional play, but this year kicked off the season under the revamped format that increases clashes between top teams.


“I expected it to be a tough game and it was,” Impulse head coach Nobuyoshi Araki said. “It all came down to Saeki. Also, when No. 21 [Kenji Ando] broke a long run to start the second half, defensive back [Atsushi] Tsuji made a great tackle and saved a touchdown, which was big.”


After Polley put the Impulse in front, Saeki booted his first field goal of the day on the next drive from 44 yards out. On the ensuing kickoff, Donnie King emulated Polley by taking it back for a touchdown, but the play was nullified by a penalty. The Challengers still got the ball near midfield, but were unable to turn the opportunity into points.


Panasonic got the ball back on its own 5, and with the runs of Benjamin Dupree and Shun Yokata and the passing of Takashi Ohara, moved the ball into Asahi Soft Drinks territory. When the drive stalled, Saeki kicked the first of his 51-yard field goals to make it 13-0 in the second quarter.


While it looked like that would be the way it would go into halftime, the Impulse managed to pad their lead after getting the ball back with 1:30 left. Ohara connected with Taiji Koyama on two passes and scrambled for more yardage as the Impulse moved from their own 25 into Challengers territory. Saeki’s 38-yard field goal as time expired made it 16-0.


The Challengers, who were limited to 134 total yards and seven first downs, showed some signs of life in the second half.  With rookie Ando ripping off a 43-yard run, they put together a drive down to the Impulse 15. But they came away with nothing when a fourth-down gamble was stopped.


Ohara then engineered a drive from the Impulse 7 to the Challengers 33. From there, Shunichi Iwata came on as the running back and got the ball down to the 14 on three carries. But again the drive stalled and Saeki was called upon, this time for a 31-yard field goal.


In the fourth quarter, Takuya Ishiuchi took over at quarterback and got Impulse close enough for Saeki to kick his second 51-yard field goal of the day to make it 22-0.


The Challengers avoided the shutout after a blocked punt gave them the ball on the Impulse 15. That set up a 4-yard touchdown pass from Yusuke Kano to Kaoru Ota with 3:24 left in the game. Panasonic recovered the ensuing onside kick and then ran out the clock.


“I have to give credit to the defense, which did not give up a touchdown,” Asahi Soft Drnks head coach Naohito Matsumoto said. “It was a clean game in which neither team had ridiculous penalties. We will have tough games from here on out, but our players will fight on with a positive mindset.”


The Impulse will next face the Elecom Kobe Finies on Sept. 10. While the Impulse have stuck with their foreign contingent that helped lead them to the national title last season, the Finies have three new imports, including running back Jordan Canzeri and defensive back Sean Draper out of Iowa.


“I never thought I would be facing the Iowa running back that I watched playing in last year’s Rose Bowl,” Araki said. “We have to be wary of how to approach this.”


The Challengers’ next game will be against the Nagoya Cyclones on Sept. 10.


—Translated from West Division report