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TOP > X League最新ニュース > Seagulls follow expected flight path with opening rout of Cranes

X League最新ニュース

Seagulls follow expected flight path with opening rout of Cranes


KAWASAKI (Aug. 31)—It really wasn’t about winning or losing, only because it was never really in doubt.


The outcome of the four-time defending league champion Obic Seagulls’ season-opening game against the X1-newcomer Taiyo Building Management Cranes was about as a predictable as a scene from a Rambo movie. And only slightly less gory.


While the Seagulls didn’t reach the record-setting 111-0 score they pasted on the Cranes in the spring Pearl Bowl, they avoided any of the surprises that have hit the first round of games by rolling to an 86-0 rout at Kawasaki Fujimi Stadium.


Shun Sugawara threw for three touchdowns and Tataeru Nakatani and Asaki Mochizuki ran for two each as the Seagulls piled up 406 total yards of offense in the Central Division clash. The defense limited the Cranes to 70 yards, including just 5 on the ground, and defensive end Kevin Jackson had one of Obic’s three interceptions.


For Obic head coach Makoto Ohashi, the game was more about getting back to the basics in the wake of the 16-12 exhibition game loss to the semipro APDFL Blazers on Aug. 14 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The Seagulls had led that game 10-0 after the first quarter, only to lose their composure and the lead in the third quarter.


“That’s why today’s theme, I said to all of the players, [stick to the] fundamentals every chance the whole day,” Ohashi said. “Usually our team, the first half is a good game, but the second half, especially the third quarter, the pace goes down a little bit. But today everybody tried to keep fundamentals.”


From a competitive standpoint, it hardly mattered that Obic was missing a number of key players. Defensive end B.J. Beatty, suspended for the first half because of his ejection from the Pearl Bowl final in June, sat out the whole game, while backup quarterbacks Manabu Tatsumura and rookie Takushiro Hata  were away due to job obligations. Captain and linebacker Naoki Kosho is still recovering from a knee injury suffered in the Pearl Bowl and could be out until the second stage.


There was also a positive side to that. “We can try a lot of the players,” Ohashi said. “All of the lower-depth guys got a good experience.”


Jackson, beginning his 10th season in the league, said the team went into the game with objectives beyond an all-but-sure victory. “The big thing was, it wasn’t a matter of winning or losing,” he said. “We had some goals, defensively and offensively, so it was just a matter of making sure we hit all of our goals.  And we didn’t do that on defense today, which is kind of crazy. Our goal was four turnovers, and we only had three, so we came up one short.”


Still, he can hardly complain. “For us, it’s always good to have that donut there,” he said of the shutout. “The offense, any time you can score 30, 40 points, it’s all good.”


The Cranes, playing their first season in the top division, had two chances to avoid a shutout, but rookie kicker Yuta Fukuda missed a pair of field goals from 40 and 46 yards out. The first came after a fumble recovery off a bad pitch gave them the ball on the Obic 27. Earlier in the game, Taiyo recovered Yuki Ikei’s fumbled punt, but quarterback Takatsune Ishikawa threw an interception on the next play.


The difference in size was evident throughout the game, and Taiyo defensive end Michael Spence, who missed the spring game, said Obic was as big and powerful as he imagined.


“I did feel it,” he said. “Especially their first string, it was like night and day compared to other teams I’ve seen in the X1 division. It brings my level of awareness up, as far as where I physically need to be at to compete, to be more of a threat. It gives me a lot more motivation.”


Spence said the team needs to address some leadership issues if it is to have any impact this season. “Right now, I think it’s not so much about the level of the other teams that’s preventing us from scoring. It’s all internal.”


Sugawara, who completed 9 of 14 passes for 174 yards, threw short touchdown passes to Ryoma Hagiyama and Noriaki Kinoshita to cap Obic’s first two drives. Takuhito Anan caught Sugawara’s third TD pass in the fourth quarter.


Takuto Hara broke away on a 51-yard touchdown run with :53 left in the first half, and had a 65-yard punt return for a touchdown in the third quarter. Koji Yamasaki and Hiroki Kato also rushed for a touchdown each, while Masashi Fujimoto returned the second-half kickoff 85 yards for a score.


Two plays after Fujimoto’s return, Jackson tipped a pass at the line and grabbed it himself. That led to rookie Takeshi Nagao’s 30-yard field goal.


“I had a chance to get my hands up a few times earlier in the game and missed a few of those close ones,” Jackson said. “I actually tipped one and the guy caught it anyway. So I just wanted to make sure that if I got back there, I would get a clear shot on the ball. It just so happened it went straight up, it was kind of lucky.”


—Ken Marantz for the X-League










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