Panasonic Impulse Win Rice Bowl for 4th National Title in Japan

The Panasonic Impulse capped an incredible undefeated season by downing the Ritsumeikan University Panthers 22-19 in front of an almost sold-out crowd at the Tokyo Dome Sunday to win the 33rd Rice Bowl which pits the X League champion against the Japanese college titlist.

This was the fourth Rice Bowl win for Panasonic and the team’s first since 2008.

Running back Shun Yokota who was named Rice Bowl MVP paced the Impulse who found themselves embroiled in a real battle and behind 19-17 with a minute and 30 seconds left to play.

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RB Sho Yokota & QB Tetsuo Takata

They pulled a page from the Boise State playbook (2007 Fiesta Bowl) executing a hook and lateral to perfection for the go-ahead score.

Japan Times staff writer Kaz Nagatsuka wrote an excellent account of the game. Here is an excerpt:

The Panasonic Impulse came out on top at the end of a thrilling contest to win the Rice Bowl national championship game for the first time in eight years with a 22-19 victory over collegiate champion Ritsumeikan University at Tokyo Dome on Sunday.

Panasonic, which defeated the Fujitsu Frontiers in December’s Japan X Bowl, was victorious in the annual game for the fourth time.

Trailing 19-15 with 1 minute, 31 seconds left in the game, the X League squad took the lead on a spectacularly designed play.

Operating in their own territory, the Impulse ran a play that saw quarterback Tetsuo Takata sling a pass to wide receiver Koji Honda, who quickly lateraled the ball to wideout Taiji Koyama, who ran it into the end zone.

Ritsumeikan, which won the Koshien Bowl collegiate championship for the first time in seven years last month, tried to take the lead back in the waning moments but the Panasonic defense stood tall.

Ritsumeikan missed a 49-yard field goal that would’ve tied the game in the final seconds.

“There was no way I’d think this game would be like this, and it gave me a stomach ache,” said veteran defensive lineman Yasuo Wakisaka, who has competed in all five IFAF World Championships. “(Ritsumeikan) had great chemistry and it’s been a while since we struggled like this. They were a really great team.”

The full article can be read here.
Photos: Panasonic Impulse.

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