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TOP > What’s New > Sugawara leads Seagulls over stubborn Silver Star

What’s New

Sugawara leads Seagulls over stubborn Silver Star


TOKYO (Nov. 4)—Shun Sugawara had a few bobbles, but otherwise showed he isn’t yet finished as a quarterback who can come through in the clutch.

Sugawara came off the bench to throw two touchdown passes on either side of halftime, lifting the three-time defending champion Obic Seagulls to a 21-7 victory over the surprisingly stubborn Asahi Beer Silver Star in their second-stage opener on a rainy Monday afternoon at Tokyo’s Oi No. 2 Stadium.

Sugawara completed 14 of 16 passes for 134 yards after taking over for starter Manabu Tatsumura, but also threw two interceptions and lost a fumble as the Central Division champion Seagulls struggled against a team it beat 69-7 in the same stage last year.

Asahi Beer, which finished third in East Division, pulled to within a touchdown in the third quarter with a bit of razzle-dazzle, scoring off a fake field goal, but Obic restored the two-score cushion on Koji Yamazaki’s 13-yard run early in the fourth quarter.

Takuya Furutani rushed for 60 yards on 13 carries, while Ryoma Hagiyama caught four passes for 51 yards. The Obic defense also had two interceptions and forced Asahi Beer to punt eight times.

Sugawara, the 2010 Japan X Bowl MVP who led Obic to titles every year since joining the team in 2010 from the Nojima Sagamihara Rise, had relinquished the starting job late this season to Tatsumura.

But Tatsumura was ineffective in Monday’s game, in which he completed 4 of 9 passes for 64 yards. He finally engineered a drive in Obic’s third possession of the game, but it ended with Yosuke Kaneoya missing a 40-yard field goal early in the second quarter.

Obic’s next drive started at the Asahi Beer 34 when rookie defensive back Keizaburo Izagawa intercepted a Kazuma Ando pass. But after getting down to the 16, Sugawara coughed up the ball and Takane Takeda recovered.

The Silver Star had a chance to strike first when, after a punt put Obic deep in its own territory, they got the ball back at the Obic 42. They made it as far as the 26, but Kazuya Togura followed Kaneya’s lead and missed a 43-yard field goal attempt to leave the game scoreless.

With 2:33 left in the half and Obic taking over at its own 26, Sugawara looked like his old self as he completed six straight passes, the fifth one a 27-yarder to star receiver Noriaki Kinoshita to put the ball on the Silver Star 3, and the last one to Kinoshita in the end zone with :39 remaining to give Obic a 7-0 halftime lead.

Asahi Beer tried an onside kick to start the second half, but was flagged for an illegal kick and Obic was well placed at the Silver Star 41. Sugawara picked up where he left off, engineering an eight-play drive in which he went 5-for-5 and capped it with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Akimitsu Mori.

Obic linebacker Masayoshi Tsukada then picked off a Minori Tono pass, only to see Takuji Yokoo return the favor with a Sugawara pass on the next play, giving Asahi Beer the ball on the Obic 38. The Silver Star advanced to the 11, where they set up for a Togura field goal. Instead, Togura got the ball and threw a touchdown pass to Kentaro Umeda to cut the lead to 14-7 with 4:47 left in the third quarter.

On the Silver Star’s first drive of the fourth quarter, they faced a 3rd-and-8 at their own 7 and opted to quick kick the ball away, giving Obic the ball on its own 41. Tatsumura returned to the game, but the Seagulls opted to keep the ball on the ground, and it paid off. Furutani broke free on a 25-yard run, then Yamazaki gained 20 yards with two runs before taking it in from the 13 to put Obic up 21-7 with 11:52 remaining in the game.

Asahi Beer only got as far as midfield on its next two drives, and Obic ran out all but the final five seconds after taking over with 3:40 left. The Seagulls got down to the Asahi Beer 16, lost six yards over two plays, then Kaneoya missed his second field goal of the day, this time from 39 yards out.

Asahi Beer (3-3), eliminated from contention for the final stage, will next play its corporate cousin, the West Division runnerup Asahi Soft Drinks Challengers, on Nov. 10 at Kawasaki Stadium. Obic  (6-0) will wrap up its second-stage campaign against Asahi Soft Drinks on Nov. 17 at Osaka’s Nagai Stadium.











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