Korea’s Seoul Vikings down Japan’s Osaka Fuji Xerox J-Stars to win Pride Bowl XI

For the second straight year, South Korea’s Seoul Vikings have captured the Pride Bowl – Pride Bowl XI – defeating Japan’s Osaka Fuji Xerox J-Stars 10-7 in Osaka, Japan.

After losing the first nine editions of this annual contest between these two teams, the Vikings have now won the last two demonstrating how far football has progressed in South Korea.

This one was especially important as it marks the first time a Korean team has won a game on Japanese soil. Osaka had dominated the first nine games.

The Vikings took their first win in 2016, for the 10th edition of the Pride Bowl beating the J-Stars 13 to 7. That game was a defensive showdown with the two teams producing less than 200 offensive yards. With that first win, the Vikings showed the emergence of Korean American Football and a rise in the stakes for the 2017 Pride Bowl.

This year’s edition of the Pride Bowl gained that much more importance. The Vikings wanted to prove their progress, defend their title and were looking to be the first Korean team to win on Japanese soil. On the other side of the field, the J-Stars wanted to redeem themselves for the previous year’s loss and defend their house.

Once again this game was a defensive showdown allowing the offense to shine only on a few occasions.

The first quarter was a see-saw battle. The first two drives for each team ended in punts, both teams gaining only a few yards. On the third drive for the J-Stars, quarterback Kyosuke Oda was forced out of the pocket and threw the ball deep down the middle of the field for an interception. Safety #27 Oh Ji Seok returned it for nine yards before being tackled.

However on the very next play, the J-Stars recovered the ball on a fumble, thanks to #25 Shinji Furugo who returned it to the Vikings 40 yard line. The J-Stars marched down the field and capped the drive with a 21 yard touchdown reception by #89 Kensuke Shirasu on the first play of the second quarter.

The Vikings answered with a 91 yard, 11 play drive capped by an 18 yard touchdown by quarterback #7 Choi Sung-Hoon to even the score. The J-Stars had only one more drive during the first half resulting in a punt. At the break, the two teams were tied 7-7.

The second half started with a 40 yards kickoff return to put the Vikings at midfield. Seven plays and 42 yards later, the Vikings kicked a field goal to take the lead 10-7.

Neither team could gain an advantage after that. Despite advancing into the Vikings  red zone at least once, the J-Stars came away empty handed after a missed field goal attempt from 21 yards out.

With the win, the Seoul Vikings demonstrated how far American football has developed in South Korea. They will return to Seoul for play Pride Bowl XII in 2018.


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