Highlights From Japan: Lixil Deers Defeated Fujitsu Frontiers in Dramatic Style

The Lixil Deers overcame an 11 point third quarter deficit to clinch a 32-28 victory over the Fujitsu Frontiers at Fujitsu Stadium in Kawasaki, Japan on Sunday.

Wide receiver Naoki Maeda caught the go-ahead TD with 24 seconds remaining to send the Deers into the semi-finals of the Pearl Bowl, the annual X League spring tournament.

Lixil quarterback Shohei Kato earlier found Maeda on an 80 yard back shoulder throw for the first points of game, after Hidetoshi Yano intercepted the Frontiers in the end zone on their first possession.

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Photo: John Gunning

Kato shook off some poor decision-making early in the game to find Yasushi Nakagawa and Maeda for touchdowns in a stellar fourth quarter, completing nearly every pass for over 100 yards on 15 completions.

Fujitsu moved the ball well for most of the afternoon with a balanced offense that saw deep passes and strong runs. When one long drive bogged down in the red zone early in the third quarter the Frontiers decided to go for it on a 4th and 2 on the 4 yard line. The run was inches short but on the very next play, Lixil running back Shinichi Maekawa fumbled allowing LB Trashaun Nixon to scoop up the ball and score giving Fujitsu their largest lead of the afternoon.

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Photo: John Gunning

Both teams fought hard and played a clean game with few penalties or injuries as the fans on both sides cheered throughout despite blistering heat in Kawasaki. After the game players greeted fans, signed autographs, and collected donations to support those affected by the recent Kumamoto earthquakes.

Frontiers quarterback Colby Cameron after the game noted that the loss was good experience for his team and said he expects them to get better and be competitive in the upcoming season.

Lixil meanwhile will face the seven-time national champion Orbic Seagulls in the semi-finals on May 29 at the Tokyo Dome.

Watch game highlights.

Texan Colton Runyan lives in Japan where he trains and competes in amateur sumo.