IBM Big Blue took an early lead and then hung on to defeat the Lixil Deers 21-20 to win Pearl Bowl XXXVIII in Japan’s Tokyo Dome Monday night.
Quarterback Kevin Craft threw three touchdown passes and game MVP receiver Takashi Kurihara caught six passes for 90 yards to help lead IBM to their first ever X League tournament or championship game victory.
Big Blue had to withstand a furious late-game rally from Lixil who scored a touchdown with 48 seconds left on the clock to pull within one point. But the Deers opted to go for the two point conversion instead of kicking the PAT to tie the game. Deers quarterback Shohei Kato’s pass was deflected by James Brooks and the Big Blue held on for the victory.
IBM took an early first quarter 7-0 lead but Kato founded Kengo Hasegawa with just over a minute remaining in the half to tie the game. IBM responded though, marching down the field capping the drive with a seven yard touchdown reception by John Stanton with seconds on the clock to take a 14-7 lead at the break.
Lixil tied the game in the third quarter after recovering a Craft fumble and had a chance to take the lead but their 40 yard field goal attempt was blocked, a play which led to the late-game decision to go for two.
Craft connected with Kurihara for the game-winning touchdown late in the third quarter.
The Tokyo Dome was filled to near capacity for the event which is the culmination of the traditional spring tournament involving many of the top teams in Japan’s X League.