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TOP > What’s New > Seagulls shrug off Challengers to stay unbeaten

What’s New

Seagulls shrug off Challengers to stay unbeaten


Trying to stop the Obic Seagulls during their bid for a third straight undefeated season is a tall enough order as it is. But failing to score any points off three turnovers only makes it that much closer to impossible.


Manabu Tatsumura threw a pair of second-half touchdowns to Ryoma Hagiyama to put the game out of reach and Yosuke Kaneoya kicked three field goals as the Obic Seagulls finished up the second stage with a capricious 29-12 victory over the Asahi Soft Drinks Challengers on Sunday at Osaka’s Nagai Stadium.


Two-time defending league champion Obic, which had already clinched a spot in the playoffs before the game, overcame two interceptions by starting quarterback Shun Sugawara and one by Tatsumura to finish on top of Block B with a 7-0 record.


“It was on odd feeling having to play ‘away’, and there was the dropping temperature, so it became a game in which our play execution wasn’t sharp,” Obic head coach Makoto Ohashi said.


Following the end of the second-stage action later in the day, Obic was drawn to face the Nojima Sagamihara Rise in the playoffs on Dec. 2 at Yokohama Stadium.


Asahi Soft Drinks (4-3), which finished second in the West Division, needed a victory and some favorable results from the other blocks to have a chance of making it to the final stage, but never really threatened before the crowd of 1,855.


“Even before we had a chance for points we hurt ourselves with mistakes,” Challengers head coach Hiroyuki Yabe said. “We have to think about what we need to win and become tighter as a team. That’s the biggest thing we got out of this defeat.”


Sugawara completed 13 of 24 passes for 125 yards before turning the reins in the second half over to Tatsumura, who went 7 for 9 for 152 yards. Hagiyama caught eight passes for 142 yards, including a 64-yard touchdown reception.


Wide receiver Noriaki Kinoshita accounted for Obic’s other score, but on the passing end. He threw a 6-yard score to Ken Shimizu off a reverse.


Asahi Soft Drinks got both of its touchdowns in the second half, with Yosuke Nakanishi scoring on a 5-yard run and Daichi Haraguchi connecting with Yu Nakajima on a 10-yard touchdown pass. The Challengers attempted to go for 2 points after both scores, but failed both times.


The Challengers alternated their two quarterbacks, with Haraguchi completing 5 of 8 passes for 41 yards while also running 12 times for 41 yards, and Keisuke Sugita connecting on 6 of 16 passes for 140 yards with an interception.


Obic opened the scoring with Kaneoya’s 25-yard field in the first quarter. In the second quarter, Asahi Soft Drinks failed to take advantage when Shungo Kondo picked off a Sugawara pass, and Obic responded by driving to the 6, where Kinoshita threw his touchdown pass to make it 10-0.


While the Challengers offense was continually stymied, even after Koji Yamamoto came up with the second interception of Sugawara, the defense stood firm. But two mental mistakes proved costly.


Obic started its final drive with 2:34 left in the half, but was forced to punt. But a roughing the kicker penalty gave the drive new life. Kaneoya then missed a 44-yard field goal, but Asahi Soft Drinks was flagged for offsides. In the end, Kaneoya kicked a 43-yarder on the final play to send the Seagulls into halftime up 13-0.


On the Challengers’ opening drive of the third quarter, Yudai Maruyama picked off a flea-flicker pass by Nakajima, giving Obic the ball at the 33. Tatsumura began his day with a bang, hitting Kinoshita for a 41-yard gain on his first play. That set up a 36-yard field goal by Kaneoya.


Asahi Soft Drinks finally came to life and put together a scoring drive as Sugita gained 47 yards with two passes and the Challengers went 74 yards in nine plays, capped by Nakajima’s 6-yard run with 5:40 left in the third quarter.


Down by 10, Asahi Soft Drinks tried an onside kick, but Obic recovered to get the ball on the  Challengers 38. Tatsumura gained 24 yards with two passes as the Seagulls moved to 9 before being sacked for a 7-yard loss by Naosuke Kikkawa. On 3rd-and-14 from the 16, Tatsumura connected with Hagiyama, who shrugged off a would-be tackler and scored to make it 22-6.


Early in the fourth quarter, Obic put the final nail in the coffin when Tatsumura and Hagiyama hooked up on a 64-yard bomb. The Challengers finished the scoring when a 50-yard completion from Sugita to Tatsuya Kureta set the stage for Haraguchi’s touchdown pass to Nakajima with 5:55 left.

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