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TOP > Game Report > Seagulls blank Lions before hometown fans

Game Report

Seagulls blank Lions before hometown fans


NARASHINO, Chiba (Sept. 23)—The Obic Seagulls gave their hometown fans the dominant performance expected of them. Well, for the first half at least, although that was more than enough.

Shun Sugawara threw touchdown passes on Obic’s first two drives and Takuto Hara broke free on a 98-yard touchdown run as the Seagulls rolled to a 34-0 victory over the All Mitsubishi Lions before a holiday crowd of 2,058 at Akitsu Soccer Stadium.

Rookie QB Takushiro Hata’s 14-yard pass to Noriaki Kinoshita with three minutes left in the second quarter gave Obic four touchdowns in four possessions. But then the offense stalled and the Seagulls were limited to just two Takeshi Nagao field goals in the second half.

Not that it mattered, as the defense put on a goal-line stand in posting its third straight shutout and set up both field goals by blocking punts.

“This is our one and only home game of the season, and the entire team and staff were up for it from before the game,” Obic head coach Makoto Ohashi told the Seagulls website. “Whether that was a factor or not, we had a good first half. The offense took advantage of its chances to score touchdowns and the defense, while allowing them to drive, still held them scoreless.

“On the other hand, we made mental errors and easy mistakes that stood out in the second half, showing we still haven’t fixed the issues left from our second game.”

Obic, staying on course to add to its record run of four straight league titles, has outscored its opponents 220-0, although the Seagulls still have the stronger Central Division foes, the Asahi Beer Silver Star and Lixil Deers, remaining on their schedule.

The game at Akitsu for the Narashino-based Seagulls was specially organized and featured fan-related events both before and after. In between, the Seagulls were never threatened in giving the fans a victory over a Lions team that came close to upsetting Lixil in its season-opener.

Obic got the ball rolling when defensive end B.J. Beatty took a short opening kickoff and returned it 33 yards to the Lions 46. Sugawara took the Seagulls the distance, completed five of seven passes, the final one an 8-yard touchdown toss to Shota Matsunaga. The drive included a 22-yard pass to Ryoma Hagiyama that put the ball on the 8-yard line.

After forcing the Lions to punt, the Seagulls took over at their own 13. Sugawara hit Hagiyama for another long gain—a 35-yard completion to the Lions 18, from where he then connected with Yuki Ikei to put the Seagulls up 14-0 at 9:10.

The Lions showed some life on their next drive, moving from their own 25 to the Seagulls 6. After Ryosuke Ogata gained four yards, defensive back Yuta Terada broke up a Shoma Taniguchi pass. On third down, Ogata ran for a yard to put the ball on the 1.

The fourth-down gamble came up short when All-League defensive back Masashi Fujimoto tipped Taniguchi’s pass in the end zone.

Taking over at the 1, Obic tried to gain some breathing room, but Sugawara gained only a yard on a quarterback sneak. On the next play, Hara went up the middle—and just kept on going, breaking into the secondary and outrunning everyone to the end zone.

Hata took over on Obic’s next series and engineered a 9-play, 51-yard drive that was capped by his touchdown pass to Kinoshita to make it 28-0 going into halftime.

The Seagulls looked like they would pad the lead early in the third quarter, but the Lions showed they would not go down without a fight. First they stopped the Seagulls drive, then Kenta Ko blocked Nagao’s 28-yard field goal attempt.

But Nagao got another chance soon after when Takahiro Mitsui blocked a punt and the Seagulls got the ball at the Lions 11. Although they could only advance one yard, Nagao came on to boot a 27-yard field goal.

The next series was a virtual instant replay, this time with Beatty getting his hands on a punt on the first play of the fourth quarter, the offense stalling again, and Nagao hitting a 34-yard field goal.

The Lions scored one final moral victory, as the Seagulls were driving toward a score on their last drive, but were thwarted when Kunito Suetomi picked off a pass by reserve QB Manabu Tatsumura.

Sugawara completed 9 of 14 passes for 132 yards, while Hata was 9 of 17 for 97 yards. Hagiyama finished with five receptions for 96 yards.