2018 IFAF U19 World Championships: Japan overwhelms Team Outback from Australia to capture 5th

Team Japan defeated Team Outback from Australia 51-14 to finish fifth in the 2018 IFAF U19 World Championships in Mexico City this past weekend.

The Japanese had suffered through two disappointing losses to start the six team tournament, losing to Mexico 31-14 and then to eventual champions, Team Canada 28-22.

Australia had dropped a 38-0 loss to Team USA in the opening game of the tournament and were turned back by Sweden 19-6.

So Team Japan wasted no time asserting themselves against a flu-depleted Australian team  that was also badly in need of a win. Yanase Masashi kicked a 35 yard field goal to open the scoring and then running back Yoshida Ryoga found a seam and raced 17 yards to give Japan a 10-0 lead, with three minutes left in the first quarter.

With Japan’s defense playing well, the offense kicked into great. Shibata Kento battled his way in from 16 yards out at the seven minute mark of the second quarter. Then, four minutes later, quarterback Hirao Shota capped a 75 yard drive with a five yard scoring pass to Otani Kuto. Murata Kanta added the extra point and Japan took a 23-0 lead into halftime.

With just over three minutes gone in the third quarter, Shota stepped back and tossed a beautiful 42 yard touchdown pass to Kamoto Kentaro who caught the ball as he crossed into the end zone. Masashi added the PAT and Japan led 30-0.

On the very next possession, Australian quarterback Liam McGrath threw the ball right into the hands of Konishi Yu who returned the ball 35 yards for another touchdown giving the Japanese a 37-0 lead.

The Australians had not given up though as on the next series, first McGrath found receiver Kristof Bryndum for a 50 yard gain. Then Gabriel Salvo carried the ball in from the five to close the gap to 37-7.  Team Outback added to their score on their next possession as McGrath connected with a streaking Bryndum for a 71 yard score and suddenly, with just over a minute to go in the third quarter, Australia seemed to be back in the ball game, 37-14.

Japan responded as Shota capped another drive with a 13 yard touchdown strike to Itokawa Mikito who was the leading receiver for the Japanese throughout the tournament, increasing the lead again to 44-14. Then Shibata Kento showed off his speed as he found a seam and simply outran the Australian defenders on the way to a 61 yard touchdown.

This is the second time Team Japan has finished fifth in the IFAF U19 World Championship tournament. In the 2014 tournament in Kuwait, the Japanese also finished fifth. They were the fourth place team in 2016 in Harbin, China and won the bronze medal in both 2009 and 2012.

Watch the game highlights here.

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