It has been five years in the making but the Fujitsu Frontiers and the Panasonic Impulse will face each again for the Japanese X-League championship in 2015.
Fujitsu comfortably handled the Obic Seagulls 27-6 in the semifinals after taking a 27-0 lead while the Impulse had no trouble with Nojima Sagamihara Rise beating them easily 45-17.
Fujitsu Frontiers 27 – Obic Seagulls 6Colby Cameron threw three touchdown passes, one to running back Gino Gordon, to pace the Frontiers to their second straight X Bowl appearance. Almost 5,000 spectators looked on a Yokohama Stadium as the Frontiers overcame their own, self-made obstacles – committing 14 penalties for 120 yards – as well as the Seagulls for the win.
Fujitsu’s defense was outstanding again picking off Obic quarterback Shun Sugawara three times, finally forcing him out of the game. They also recovered a fumble and recorded six sacks along the way.
Penalties haunted both teams though as Obic lost a touchdown on a 98-yard kickoff return by Noriaki Kinoshita in the second quarter due to a holding penalty. A third quarter Fujitsu interception returned to the Obic three yard line was also called back on a holding call.
The Frontiers broke open a mistake prone first half with two second quarter touchdowns adding a field goal to enter the break up 17-0. After Sugawara’s third interception on the first Obic series of the second half he was replaced by Takushiro Hata who fared marginally better but could still not mount much offense against an aggressive Fujitsu defense.
Leading 27-0 in the fourth quarter, the Frontiers relaxed and the Seagulls managed to score a late touchdown. This is the second year in a row that Fujitsu has beaten the Seagulls in the semifinals.
The Frontiers suffered a major setback late in the game when Gordon was carried off the field with a severe lower leg injury. He is doubtful at this point for the championship game.
This is a tough end for the Obic Seagulls. After a four-year reign as X League champions they have now been bounced from the semis twice in a row by the Frontiers. There will be a good deal of soul searching in the Obic camp during the offseason.
Before beating the IBM BigBlue 44-10 in last year’s Japan X Bowl, Fujitsu had been 0-5 in championship game appearances. This year’s game will be a rematch of the Frontiers’ 33-13 loss to the Impulse in 2007.
Panasonic Impulse 45 – Nojima Sagamihara Rise 17
With Japan’s leading running back Ben Dupree out with an injury, Panasonic’s Shun Yokota took full advantage scoring 54 and 73 yard touchdowns helping the Impulse to 28 first quarter points. The Rise never recovered.
Quarterbacks Tetsuo Takata and Takashi Ohara each threw a touchdown pass, Masayoshi Nakamura returned an interception for a score and Masashi Hashimoto scored on a 1-yard plunge as the Impulse advanced to the Japan X Bowl for the first time in five years.
Before the crowd of 1,754 on Sunday, Panasonic remained unbeaten by repeating its 36-0 victory over Nojima on the same field two weeks ago in the second-stage finale.
The Impulse gave a sign of things to come for the Rise on their first play from scrimmage. Yokota found a seam, broke three tackles and raced down the sideline for 54 yards and a touchdown.
The Rise switched quarterbacks from Ben Anderson to Masato Kinoshita, but it didn’t help as Kinoshita was picked off at his own 25 yard line and Impulse defensive back Nakamura returned it for Panasonic’s fourth touchdown with 2:19 still remaining in the first quarter.
The onslaught continued with another Kinoshita interception which led to a fifth Impulse touchdown giving them a 35-0 lead in the second quarter. Ben Anderson returned to the game and responded finding Yuji Otaki for a 15 yard touchdown pass and Nojima added a field goal before the half ended to make the score 38-10.
Panasonic struck early in the second half as Emory Polley returned the opening kickoff of the second half 63 yards to the Nojima 20. The Impulse made no mistake scoring another touchdown to basically put the game away. The Rise did score again on an Anderson to Otaki 51 yard touchdown pass but that was it.
For Panasonic, the game against Fujitsu will also be a rematch of the 2007 final, which the Impulse won 33-13 for the first of back-to-back titles.