Japan: Fujitsu Frontiers beat IBM Big Blue for 2nd straight win

The defending champion Fujitsu Frontiers used a strong second half to pull away from IBM Big Blue and cruise to a 41-21 win in the Japanese X League’s sole Saturday game in the second round of the season.

This was the second win in a row for the Frontiers so a victory in the third round against Elecom Kobe Finies on Nov. 22, will put them in the X Bowl for the eighth year.

Fujitsu needed just two plays to find the end zone as starting quarterback Michael Birdsong hit wide receiver Riki Matsui for a 63 yard touchdown on the second play from scrimmage.

The Frontiers caught a break recovering a fumbled punt return on the IBM 12 yard line. Birdsong made no mistake two plays later, lofting a soft touchdown pass to up the lead to 14-0.

IBM finally got on the board in the second quarter when quarterback Kevin Craft connected with wide receiver Naoki Matsuoka for a 21 yard scoring pass to reduce the lead to 14-7.

Three minutes later, still in the second quarter, from the 48 yard line, Birdsong hit wide Kyohei Okaji on a short hitch and the speedy receiver broke a tackle and then raced untouched 45 yards to the end zone increasing the lead to 21-7.

Fujitsu Frontiers WR Riki Matsui Photo: X-League

The Big Blue responded again as Craft found Shirane Ko at the back of the end zone for a three yard touchdown pass to close the gap to 21-14.

Fujitsu struck once in the third with Birdsong finding Teruaki Clark Nakamura and then Gotetsu Nishimura kicked a field goal to boost the lead to 31-14.

However, Takaki Suzuki gathered in the ensuing kickoff at his own goal line and raced untouched through traffic 100 yards to score and reduce the lead again, to 31-21.

Five minutes later, Birdsong put the game away hitting Matsui for his second touchdown of the game and with six minutes remaining, Fujitsu took a commanding 38-21 lead.

IBM could not find the end zone again and Nishimura added another field goal with two minutes on the clock to make the final score 41-21.

Birdsong was superb again for the Frontiers throwing for 322 yards and five touchdowns with Matsui his leading receiver, catching five passes for 91 yards and two touchdowns. Birdsong definitely spread the ball around, throwing to eight different receivers.

The win takes Fujitsu closer to the X Bowl while IBM is in danger of missing its third straight appearance in the Japanese final.

AFI
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