Japan: Fujitsu Frontiers defeat Panasonic Impulse in 77th Rice Bowl to capture 3rd straight title

The Fujitsu Frontiers claimed their third straight Rice Bowl championship and and eighth overall X-League title after defeating the Panasonic Impulse 16-10 on Wednesday at the Tokyo Dome.

Paced by 2023 XLeague MVP running back Trashaun Nixon, who rushed for 108 yards and scored the game’s first touchdown, the Frontiers took an early lead and then scored on a fourth quarter trick play for the win.

The Frontiers defense forced a Panasonic three and out to start the game and then quarterback Tsubasa Takagi took charge, marching his team on a 71 yard drive, capping it by tossing to Nixon who weaved his way into the end zone from five yards out to give the defending champions a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter.

Panasonic responded early in the second period as defensive back Joshua Cox picked off Takagi at midfield. Two plays later, running back Victor Mitchell ripped off a 30 yard run and then Hiroaki Tachikawa pounded the ball in from the one yard line to tie the game at 7-7.

Fujitsu Frontiers WR Samajie Grant catching a pass. Grant was named Rice Bowl MVP. ©X LEAGUE

Fujitsu re-took the lead with seven seconds left in the first half on a 32 yard field goal after Takagi had moved his team from his own 20 down to the Panasonic 16 yard line.

Neither team could gain an advantage early in the second half until late in the third quarter. Behind the ground game led by Mitchell and Tachikawa, the Impulse reached the Fujitsu 19 yard line and tied the game with a 36 yard field goal.

The Frontiers answered after Takagi first marched his team down to the Panasonic 21 yard line. Then on a third and six, he tossed the ball to wide receiver Samajie Grant who in turned heaved it into the arms of streaking Kazuki Kimura in the end zone to give his team a 16-10 lead with 13 minutes still left.

Panasonic RB Hiroaki Tachikawa ©X LEAGUE

Panasonic responded by marching down to the Frontiers seven yard line on the very next possession but a fourth down gamble failed and Fujitsu took over.

That was as close as either team came to scoring the rest of the way and with less than a minute to go Fujitsu took the ball over near midfield after another failed Impulse fourth down and began celebrating.

Takagi completed 22 of 37 passes for 233 yards with Samajie Grant catching three for 52 yards and Kimura three for 45 and a touchdown. Nixon was the game’s top rusher with his 108 yards.

In Panasonic’s rotating quarterback system, Yura Araki completed 7 of 10 for 107 yards while Takuya Ishiuchi struggled completing 4 of 12 for 43 yards. Dax Raymond hauled in six passes for 96 yards to lead all receivers while Victor Mitchell rushed for 84 yards on 14 carries.

Samajie Grant was named the game’s Most Valuable Player after catching three passes for 52 yards and throwing the winning touchdown pass.

Watch the highlights here.

Source: X LEAGUE

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