Fujitsu Frontiers stage second half rally to win 5th Japanese title

Trailing in the second half, the Fujitsu Frontiers scored two touchdowns and then held on to defeat the Panasonic Impulse 28-26 to win X Bowl XXXIII in front of almost 20,000 fans at the Tokyo Dome Monday night.

This was the fourth Japanese title in a row for Fujitsu and the fifth in six years. But the Impulse did not make this easy after taking the lead early in the second half. Then Game and League MVP, Fujitsu running back Samergy Grant, took over, scoring a crucial touchdown and pounding out the yards, keeping the Panasonic offense off the field.

Frontiers quarterback Tsubasa Takagi, filling in for an injured Michael Birdsong, was efficient, throwing for 183 yards and three touchdowns with Teruaki Clark Nakamura catching five for 95 yards and two of those touchdowns and  Yoshimasa Iwamatsu catching the other one. Grant put on a show, rushing for a game-high 161 yards and one touchdown.

For Panasonic, Anthony Lawrence completed 29 of 33 passes for 311 yards and one touchdown with Tatsuya Tonhana leading all receivers hauling in 11 receptions for 164 yards and a touchdown. Running back Victor Mitchell had 16 carries for 73 yards and a touchdown while Naotaka Koike picked off an errant Takagi pass, returning it for a touchdown. Eita Saeki kicked a pair of field goals for the Impulse.

With Panasonic leading 20-14, Grant broke open a tight ball game midway through the third quarter, finding a seam on the left side and bursting through for a 75 yard touchdown. Although it wasn’t the game winner, it did change the momentum of the game.That’s when Grant took charge, gaining many of his 161 yards in the latter half of the contest.

Clark scored both of his touchdowns in the first half to give the Frontiers a 14-10 halftime lead as Lawrence found Tonhana for Panasonic’s lone first half touchdown and Saeki kicked a field goal.

The Impulse went out in front early in the third quarter as Koike inercepted Takagi for a pick six and then Koike added his second field goal of the game. Then, with his team trailing 20-14, Grant went to work, scoring from 75 yards out to retore the lead for Fujitsu, 21-20.

Everything seemed to go the Frontiers way after that as even a Grant fumble into the end zone was recovered by teammate Yoshimasa Iwamatsu to extend the lead to 28-20.

Mitchell scored on a five yard scamper five minutes later but the two-point conversion attempt, which would have tied the game, failed.

The Fujitsu defense did the est. A last gasp drive by Panasonic with 89 seconds left, ended with back to back penalties at their own 48 yard line. Fujitsu regained possession with 32 seconds left to end the game.

The Frontiers will return to Tokyo Dome on Jan. 3 to face the university champion Kwansei Gakuin University Fighters in the Rice Bowl for a second straight year. Fujitsu defeated the Fighters 52-17 last season in Japan’s national championship.


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