Japan: Obic Seagulls win Pearl Bowl in a nail biter

Don’t tell anyone on the Obic Seagulls or IBM Big Blue that the Pearl Bowl is the preseason. Every player came to play in this nail biter that saw the Seagulls outlast Big Blue 29-27. Obic wide receiver and kick return specialist Taro Mizuno was named game MVP after logging 51 yards on a single drive for a score as well as returning a kickoff for a TD that shifted the momentum back to Obic after IBM had clawed its way into the game.

Taro Mizuno’s two TDs saw him named MVP – Chris Pfaff, Inside Sport: Japan, June 19, 2017

Though Mizuno took home the hardware, there were a several outstanding performances that showcased just how freakishly athletic and competitive these players are. The game saw four blocked kicks, two return touchdowns, one blocked punt, five hurdled players in a single drive, and a defensive end who returned two kickoffs over twenty yards each time. There was only one punt in the first half and both teams had an average starting position beyond the 40.

The line play was chippy all game with the offensive lines of both teams trying desperately to keep the defense at bay. Both DLs won the battle and recording five tackles for loss and constantly harassing the opposing QB on every throw.

Yuki Masamoto ran in a score but had an uneven performance – John Gunning, Inside Sport: Japan, June 19, 2017

That pressure riled IBM QB Yuki Masamoto who threw two untimely interceptions in the first half including one in the end zone. Obic turned the ball over once on an interception, but a quick start, added to the Seagulls winning the turnover battle is what made the difference in the game. IBM put Kevin Craft in at QB for one series after Masamoto had thrown his second interception. Craft marched Big Blue down the field and pulled his team within a score with a TD pass to Takashi Kurihara right before the half. With only 1:40 on the clock, Obic QB Ikaika Woolsey hit Mizuno twice on long throws, the second for a score to to go in at the half 23-13 ahead. Masamoto played the whole second half and put his team in positions to score, but ultimately struggled when in the red zone.

Ikaika Woolsey led his team to a championship in his rookie season – Sachiko Karamatsu, Inside Sport: Japan, June 19, 2017

Woolsey and crew could only muster one touchdown in the second half, but it was enough to allow them to run the clock out on IBM by turning to their ground game. Both teams put up far lower offensive numbers than they had leading up to the championship as the defenses really made their mark on this game. All in all the players put on a great show with every play must-watch football in the kind of championship game everyone dreams about seeing.

Hakeem Olajuwon and Dikembe Mutombo Players of the Game: Kevin Jackson, defensive lineman of the Obic Seagulls could easily have been given the MVP award. Jackson blocked a field goal and a PAT and had a decisive sack late in the fourth which was the difference in the game. Likewise Big Blue’s DL “Big Game James” Brooks could have gotten the nod as he put in another round of excellent play by blocking two field goals of his own as well as recording a sack and another tackle for a loss. Both men played outstandingly as individuals and as leaders of their ferocious fronts.
– C.J. Ryan: June 17th 2017