As Japan’s X League heads into the final weekend of play three teams are already set for the semifinal round. The Panasonic Impulse, Fujitsu Frontiers and Nojima Sagamihara Rise have moved on. However, the final berth is up for grabs with the Lixil Deers in the driver’s seat. If the Deers beat the Frontiers they move on to play the same team. But if Fujitsu wins then the Obic Seagulls take the final spot.
Panasonic Impulse (6-0) v Nojima Sagamihara Rise (5-1)
This game has no bearing other than bragging rights as both the Impulse and Rise have qualified for the semifinals and will face each other again on November 29 . Panasonic running back Ben Dupree rushed for 140 yards and three touchdowns in the win against Asahi while quarterback Tetsuo Takata completed 16 of 22 passes for 135 yards and another two touchdowns.
Nojima Sagamihara Rise quarterbacks Kinoshita Miyabito and Ben Anderson struggled in last wee’s overtime win against the Silver Star. They were a combined 13 of 26 for 132 yards and two interceptions. However, rookie running back Yuki Tomiwaza made up for it rushing for 102 yards and two touchdowns in pacing the Rise to the win. His contributions will be key to beating the Impulse who are looking to gain some momentum entering the semifinal game against these same Rise.
Kickoff November 15, 2:30 PM (12:30 AM EST)
IBM Big Blue (4-2) v Asahi Soft Drinks Challengers (4-2)
Neither of these two teams has qualified for the next stage so this game will be for pride more than anything else. In the surprise loss to the Seagulls, quarterback Kevin Craft still completed 33 of 50 passes for 337 yards and two touchdowns. In addition, IBM’s tandem rush ends of Meechie Eaton and James Brooks can definitely bring pressure.
Challengers quarterback Yusuke Kano struggled last week in the embarrassing 52-9 loss to the Obic Seagulls. He will have to find the form he had in the divisional round. Running back Yuki Shirakami is one of the leading rushers in Japan and he has to get back on track.
Fujitsu Frontiers (6-0) v Lixil Deers (5-1)
With the way the Frontiers have been playing of late, they have to be the favorites going into this game. Nevertheless, Lixil is desperate to win this one. If they lose they are out and Obic will face the Frontiers in the semifinals. As national team quarterback Shohei Kato goes so go the Deers. Last week he was on target throwing for 263 yards and four touchdowns. Receiver Naoki Maeda scored two of those and is playing well.
Fujistsu enters this game with quarterback Colby Cameron in fine form. In the win against Elecom two weeks ago Cameron threw for 298 yards and should be ready. Running back Gino Gordon was the leading rusher in the East division gaining 367 yards on 45 carries and will put the Deers defensive line to the test.
Both teams had similar results in their games against the other opponent, the Elecom Kobe Finies. But Lixil needs to win this game to take the final berth in the semifinals. That may be the difference maker.