Panasonic Impulse Come From Behind To Capture X Bowl Title in Japan

Down 21-10 midway through the fourth quarter, the Panasonic Impulse rallied scoring two late touchdowns, one with a minute left, to stun the defending champion Fujitsu Frontiers 24-21 and win the 29th X Bowl in Japan Sunday night.

With a packed crowd looking on in the Tokyo Dome, Impulse quarterback Tetsuo Takata, game MVP, was superb when it counted leading his troops on a late drive to secure the victory.

Japan - 2015 X Bowl action - 6

Panasonic QB Tetsuo Takata earned game MVP honors

The Frontiers league-leading offense had been sputtering all game long, but seemed to start clicking in the second half scoring two touchdowns.  But the Impulse defense forced Fujitsu into a three and out late in the game and Takata took advantage engineering a five play drive from the 33 yard line, capping it with a 15 yard touchdown strike to Taiji Koyama. Takata then scored the two point conversion himself to seal the win.

This was the first X League championship win for the Impulse since 2008 and their fourth overall. And this was Takata’s third national championship as he turned in another stellar, heroic late game performance.

The Panasonic defense had a big hand in the win as linebacker Shogo Matsunaga intercepted Fujitsu quarterback Colby Cameron with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter and on the very next play, from the 47 yard line, Takata found Tatsuya Tonka in the end zone to close the gap to 21-16.


Taiji Koyama diving for the winning touchdown

The Frontiers had struck early in the game taking a 7-0 lead on Cameron’s four yard touchdown pass to tight end Yuji Mizuno. But the Impulse kept Fujitsu from scoring on their next six possessions.

Meanwhile, the Impulse offense was having problems of its own and did not advance to the Frontiers red zone until late in the second quarter. A fourth down run by Shun Yokota with less than a minute to go was stuffed and it looked as if the Frontiers would finish the half ahead 7-0.

But an ill timed pass by Cameron was picked off by corner Emory Polley who returned it for a touchdown, tying the game at 7-7 at the break.

Polley had been waiting for the chance:

“We knew they’d be trying to stretch the field and get out of bounds in the two minute situation so I tried to bait the QB into making that throw and he did. I was able to step in front of the WR and take it in. It was a great team win for us.”


Defensive back Emory Polley racing for a touchdown

In the second half, the Impulse offense began finding a rhythm and advanced to field goal range at the 10 minute mark taking the lead 10-7.

Fujitsu countered though as Cameron hit Junpei Yoshimoto on a 16 yard scoring pass regaining the lead 14-10. Then, with seven minutes left in the game Cameron threw another touchdown pass, this time to Takeshi Akiyama giving the Frontiers a seemingly comfortable two score lead 21-10.

After forcing Panasonic to punt with five minutes remaining, Fujitsu looked like a certain winner but then Matsunaga’s interception changed all that and Tetsuo Takata took over.

The Impulse return to the Tokyo Dome on January 3 to play the Japanese collegiate champion Ritsumeikan University for the overall national title in the Rice Bowl.

Photo credit: X League, Yosei Kozano

Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.