Japan: Nojima Sagamihara Rise earn big win, edge Elecom Kobe Finies

The Nojima Sagamihara Rise bounced back from a disappointing first round loss in Japan’s XLeague Sunday by beating the Elecom Kobe Finies 17-14 to stay alive in the hunt for a berth in the X Bowl final.

The Rise were whipped 48-3 two weeks ago by the Fujitsu Frontiers and were looking to redeem themselves.

They did.

New quarterback Kurt Palandech completed 16 of 26 passes for 195 yards and one touchdown while running back Dereck Akira Williams had 21 carries for 78 yards and the other touchdown. Palandech also used his legs rushing for 63 yards. Wide receiver Masato Ito caught three passes for 50 yards while Yuhei Yagi had three catches for 49 yards and the game-winning touchdown

For Elecom, Cody Sokol threw for 250 yards and two touchdowns but could not move the ball on the ground. He had -42 yards rushing and his team -23. Kobe Finies leading receiver Alfonso Onunwor hauled in seven passes for 96 yards while teammate Yutaka Nagami caught one touchdown pass while Takeshi Minamimoto caught the other.

However, it was Elecom who took charge first as Sokol hit Nagami in stride and the veteran receiver took the ball all the way for a 69 yards touchdown, giving his team a 7-0 lead.

Nojima struck back late in the opening period as Williams scored to tie the game at 7-7.

With defenses playing inspired football, the score stayed tied until Kenta Suzuki kicked a 42-yard field goal midway through the second quarter to give the Rise a 10-7 lead.

Sokol put his team out in front with less than two minutes remaining in the half when he connected with Minamimoto for a touchdown giving Elecom a 14-10 lead.

The third quarter was a battle of defenses and it looked like the game might end with an Elecom win but with six minutes to go, Palandech and the Rise offense took the ball over. Marching his team 14 plays in five minutes and 26 seconds, Palandech finished the drive off with a seven yard touchdown pass to Yagi.

The Kobe Finies could get no closer and Nojima came away with a valuable win. The Rise amasses 393 yards of offense while holding Elecom to 227 yards and minus 23 yards rushing.

Needless to say, Kurt Palandech was happy with his first ever game and win in Japan:

“For me, this was a great win. It just feels so exciting to be here and to be a part of this team and the XLeague. The quality of football is really high and I am grateful to be a part of it.”

Palandech was asked about his thoughts on the game winning drive.

“Going into that final drive, we felt pretty well that we could take control of the clock which we did. Our ground game was working. Then getting the touchdown as late as we did really made the difference. We knew we had a good push but our players really stepped up. On the whole, our receivers came up with some big plays when we needed them.”


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