Fujitsu Frontiers Come From Behind To Win Thrilling Kawasaki Derby in Japan

Defending X League champions, the Fujitsu Frontiers won an absolutely enthralling game on Sunday, downing Asahi Beer Silver Star 45 – 23 after the underdogs had given the champions all they could handle in the first half. Asahi Beer actually looked like they would go in at the break ahead. Leading 16-14, their attempted field goal, was blocked by Trashuan Nixon bursting through the middle. Al -Rilwan Adeyemi picked up the ball and sprinted half the length of the field into the endzone as the stadium went crazy.

Trashuan Nixon’s (16) FG block swung the game in Fujitsu’s favor – Chris Pfaff, Inside Sport: Japan, Sept 10, 2017

The officials though flagged Nixon on the play for a push in the back after the recovery, which meant the TD, was wiped off the scoreboard and Fujitsu had to run one more play. In true Aaron Rodgers style, quarterback Colby Cameron danced around until his receivers could get downfield then heaved the ball almost 60 yards in the air towards the endzone. Silver Star batted the ball down but only into the waiting arms of wideout Sei Kyo and the stadium once again erupted into chaos.

Silver Star players bat the ball down but only to WR Sei Kyo (1) – Chris Pfaff, Inside Sport: Japan, Sept 10, 2017

It was a fitting close to a first half that opened with a bang when Silver Star scored on a fumble return TD with just 12 seconds gone. That was the mirror opposite of how Fujitsu had started their opening game and may have been the universe resetting itself a la Twin Peaks. Regardless the Champions were reeling when after a short possession followed by a Gaelic Football style punt, Asahi scored again just three plays later. RB Takuya Yanagisawa barreling in for the TD.

Clark Nakamura’s 59 yard TD got Fujitsu off the mark – Chris Pfaff, Inside Sport: Japan, Sept 10, 2017

It didn’t take long for Fujitsu to regain its composure though. Cameron found Clark Nakamura with a beautiful 59-yard TD strike up the center to get Fujitsu off the mark. Four minutes later, Cameron went back to the same man with a short pass around the 40 and the all-league WR spun brilliantly to leave his marker in the dirt then outpaced everyone else to the endzone.

Nakamura had a great day catching nine balls for 174 yards and two scores. Several of his catches were highlight reel material along the sidelines. He wasn’t the only wideout to shine though. Kyo, the man who caught the Hail Mary, had eight catches for 140 yards and a couple of TDs.

Sei Kyo’s fourth quarter TD was the final score of the game – Chris Pfaff, Inside Sport: Japan, Sept 10, 2017

After the break, RB Gino Gordon, didn’t let an injured hand keep him down, breaking off a long scoring run to make it 28-16. At that point it seemed as if Fujitsu might run away with the game, but Silver Star players never let their heads drop, and they fought back with some great plays on a scoring drive, none better than the last. Wideout Kazuya Tokura caught a pass in the flat and it looked like he would be stopped short but he pulled up and lobbed a soft pass over the onrushing defenders to a wide open Kazuki Kobayashi who had slipped into the back of the endzone.

Kazuki Kobayashi caught a TD pass from fellow wideout Kazuya Tokura – Chris Pfaff, Inside Sport: Japan, Sept 10, 2017

That was as close as Silver Star would come though as the Frontiers scored three more touchdowns to make the game seem easier than it was. After it was over, Asahi Beer head coach Hayato Arima praised his players efforts and said Fujitsu’s greater depth had just been too much to overcome when his side started to tire late on. None of the three new Americans on Asahi Beer’s roster played as they continue to wait on work visas to come through. Looking on the bright side Arima said it gave the Japanese players on the team a chance to develop. They certainly acquitted themselves well, but in two weeks time they have a huge game against Lixil Deers. If Silver Star can win that they could be looking at a good seeding going into the playoffs in November.

An injured hand didn’t stop Fujitsu RB Gino Gordon from scoring on a 47-yard run – Chris Pfaff, Inside Sport: Japan, Sept 10, 201

Fujitsu have probably their easiest game to date next time out when they take on Tokyo Gas, but DB Al-Rilwan Adeyemi who snapped Silver Star WR Yuta Hayashi’s TD streak wasn’t looking at it that way.

“We have to treat Tokyo Gas like any other team we play. Who’s to say Tokyo Gas isn’t the team that takes us to 2-1. If we treat them with the respect they deserve we’ll be 3-0.”

John Gunning

John Gunning is a Tokyo based sports writer. He is a sumo commentator for NHK and covers MMA and American football for national and international publications.

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