All roads lead to X Bowl as final round in Japan’s XLeague winds up

Japan’s X League heads into its third and final regular season round this weekend with berths in the X Bowl up for grabs.

The Obic Seagulls and Panasonic Impulse will battle for the Group B title with the winner advancing to the X Bowl while in Group A the defending champion Fujitsu Frontiers will face the Elecom Kobe Finies and the Nojima Sagamihara Rise and IBM Big Blue will square off.

In the event that Fujitsu loses to the Kobe Finies, and the Rise defeats IBM there would be a three-way tie for first in Group A at which point the X League tie breaker rules would kick in with the first being head to head which in a three-way tie would not apply. The second is points difference, capped at +20 in any one game while the third is number of TDs and the fourth is the TD difference. If all else fails, a coin toss could determine who advances to the X Bowl. However, with the Frontiers scores compared to the other two teams, it would take a herculean effort on the part of the Kobe Finies to thwart the Frontiers. The Frontiers defeated Nojima 48-3 while the Rise beat Elecom 17-14.

Saturday, November 21, Obic Seagulls (1-0) @ Panasonic Impulse (1-0)

The last time the Obic Seagulls and Panasonic Impulse met was in the XLeague semifinals in 2019 when Panasonic came out on top, 24-14. Both teams have had an easy time of it beating the Tokyo Gas Creators. Obic won 60-0 while the Impulse won 38-0 over an outgunned Tokyo squad.

The Impulse offense is led by quarterback Anthony Lawrence along with running back Victor Mitchell.  Lawrence had one touchdown in the win over Tokyo while Mitchell ran for two. Other key players include running back Naotaka Koike and wide receiver Noriyuki Kinoshita, both of whom scored in the rout of the Gas Creators.

For Obic, running back Taku Lee and quarterback Jimmy Laughrea are a deadly combination. In the lopsided victory, Laughrea completed 9 of 11 passes for 190 yards and 4 TDs while rushing for another in only one half of football.  Lee rushed for 117 yards and a score. Laughrea’s targets included wide receiver Yuto Nishimura who had two touchdown catches from the started and caught another from backup Kobayashi while Yuki Ikei and fullback Maki Mochizuki also scored on touchdown passes.

In other words, Obic has plenty of weapons. The winner of this game advances to the X Bowl.

Sunday, November 22, Fujitsu Frontiers (2-0) @ Elecom Kobe Finies (1-1)

The defending and five-time champion Fujitsu Frontiers have waltzed through the first two rounds of regular season play with comfortable wins over IBM Big Blue (41-21) and the Nojima Sagamihara Rise (48-3). However, Elecom could give them some stiff opposition despite losing 17-14 to the Rise two weeks ago. The Kobe Finies downed IBM 35-28 in the opening game, scoring a last second touchdown for the win. Still, the loss to Nojima no doubt still stings and nothing would be sweeter than to play giant killer.

Frontiers quarterback Michael Birdsong leads a potent attack with running back Samajie Grant who is backed up by Trashaun Nixon (who also plays linebacker) along with wideouts Shunya Kotsusa (who scored a 99 yard kickoff return touchdown) and Kyohei Okaji who hauled in a touchdown pass. In other words, Fujitsu has a full arsenal of weapons.

For Elecom, quarterback Cody Sokol has looked impressive and in the loss threw for 250 yards and two touchdowns. In the opening round win over IBM, Sokol tossed five touchdown passes with wide receiver Alfonso Onunwor as his main target. Onunwor had 12 catches for 251 yards and three touchdowns in that game. Fujitsu’s secondary will need to keep him under control. Wide receiver Takeshi Minamimoto is another key threat for the Kobe Finies. he caught the game winner against Big Blue.

Monday, November 23, IBM Big Blue (0-2) @ Nojima Sagamihara Rise (1-1)

The arrival of quarterback Kurt Palandech changed the offense for Nojima. After mustering just three points in the opening loss to Fujitsu, the offense racked up over 300 yards in the win over Elecom. Palandech threw for 195 yards but more importantly gave the team needed stability. Running back Dereck Akira Williams had 21 carries for 78 yards and the other touchdown. Palandech also used his legs rushing for 63 yards. Wide receiver Masato Ito caught three passes for 50 yards while Yuhei Yagi had three catches for 49 yards and the game-winning touchdown.

For IBM, head coach Kevin Craft has been splitting the quarterbacking duties with backup quarterback Yuki Masamoto. The pair has weapons in receivers Shirane Ko and Takaki Suzuki who scored a 100 yard kickoff return touchdown in the game against Fujitsu and scored three of IBM’s four touchdowns in the loss to Elecom. Running back Daisuke Yamanaka gives the Big Blue a solid ground game.

The game pits two teams badly needing a win. The Rise still have a remote chance to advance to the X Bowl while IBM needs to find a way to win at least one game.

All three games will be carried live on Japan’s Eleven Sports and the links will be available here on American Football International.

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