The Kwansei Gajuin University Fighters defeated the Waseda University Big Bears 37-20 to win the 2018 Koshien Bowl in front of a crowd of 34,000 at Koshien Stadium and capture the Japanese collegiate title for the 29th time.
With the win, Kwansei Gajuin advance to the Rice Bowl on January 3 where they will face the X Bowl champions, the Fujitsu Frontiers.
Kwansei Gakuin University quarterback Kosei Okuno completed 12 of 15 passes for 149 yards and was named game MVP and won the Chuck Mills Trophy, given to the best college football player of the year.
Although he did not throw a touchdown pass, Okuno engineered seven scoring drives, four for touchdowns and three for field goals. He also rushed six times for 49 yards.
As Kwansei head coach Hideaki Toriuchi told the Japan Times:
“Okuno made good decisions to not force passes and run to escape the rush. I expected a close game, but our defensive line played well to stop Waseda’s offense.
“During the spring, I could not imagine this team would reach this game. But through tough games against Kyoto University, Kansai University and two games against Ritsumeikan University, my players stepped up.”
The Fighters opened the scoring as running back Kosuke Nakamura punched the ball in from the one yard line. But Waseda responded on the following series with Iori Motoyama finding a seam from seven yards out tying the game at 7-7.
Then Kwansei flexed their offensive muscles, reeling off 27 straight points to take a 34-7 lead midway through the third quarter. The Fighters defense shut down the Big Bears offense forcing them to punt four times, turn the ball over on downs once and give up two interceptions.
Waseda finally answered but it was too little, too late as quarterback Teppei Shibasaki threw two touchdown passes to Tsuyoshi Endo but Kwansei kicker Yuusuke Ando added a final field goal giving the Fighters a comfortable win and their sixth Koshien Bowl title since 2011.