Fujitsu Frontiers Soar Past Kwansei Gakuin Fighters En Route To Rice Bowl Victory

The X League champion Fujitsu Frontiers led by American QB Colby Cameron (Louisiana Tech) defeated Japan’s collegiate champion the Kwansei Gakuin Fighters 30-13 in front of over 33,000 fans at Tokyo Dome on January 3rd 2017 in the 70th Rice Bowl.

The Frontiers beat Kwansei through the air and cruised to a victory that never felt that close. Cameron was named the game’s MVP as the Frontiers locked up their second Rice Bowl victory in three years.

Coming out of the gates red hot the Frontiers kicked two field goals and added a touchdown to go up 13-0 before Kwansei University recorded its first first down with 1:10 remaining in the first quarter.

By halftime Cameron had the Frontiers leading 20-0 after finding his favorite target of the day, WR Nakamura in the end zone for a pair of touchdowns bombs.

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The Frontiers kicked a field goal on their opening possession of the second half to go up 23-0.

Kwansei never gave up, though, and showed life in the second half. After the Fighters were given great field position due to a short kickoff, their O-line started opening up big holes in the middle of the field. They smashed the ball down the field with a ferocious run game that ran for 165 yards on the day capping the drive off with a touchdown by RB Hashimoto Seiji. The subsequent failed 2 point conversion however allowed the Frontiers to keep a three score advantage over the Fighters that they would never relinquish.

Cameron earned his MVP award showing poise in the pocket and displaying accuracy at all levels of the field. He started the afternoon hitting receivers repeatedly outside the numbers for intermediate gains and first downs before going vertical and dropping dimes into his receiver’s hands from 30, 51, and 37 yards out. His day was done after a 37 yard touchdown strike to WR Fukui at the end of the third quarter when backup Hiramoto stepped in. In total, Cameron completed 20 of 27 passes for 311 yards and three scores.

Even if the Fighters couldn’t get on the scoreboard early, they dazzled the audience with some memorable trick plays. On their second drive after another three and out their QB took the snap for an apparent fourth down try but instead of throwing the ball booted it and the surprised Frontiers had no one ready. The ball rolled all the way to the 13 yard line and pinned the Frontiers deep in their own territory.

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Photo credit: Inside Sport: Japan, John Gunning

On another fourth down, with the punting unit on the field, the Fighters ran a sweep through the formation with the running back snatching the snapped ball in front of the punter and taking it for an 8-yard gain and a first down.

Though there were three Fighters injured in the field of play and two offsetting unsportsmanlike conduct calls on a pair of lineman, it was a clean game with only one turnover and few penalties.

The packed stadium was awash with thousands of fans in Frontier red and Fighter blue. The Fighter’s half of the stadium never stopped cheering and Kwansei’s marching band put on an excellent halftime show. The Frontier reds never had a reason to stop cheering as they watched their team dominate. It was great to see so many fervent fans watching an American Football game in Japan. The Rice Bowl is a treat for anyone who loves the game.

Colton Runyan
Texan Colton Runyan lives in Japan where he trains and competes in amateur sumo.
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