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Defending champ Impulse crushes Oaks to advance to Japan X Bowl

by Kaz Nagatsuka

The reigning X League champion Panasonic Electric Works Impulse came through at both sides of the ball as it crushed the Onward Oaks 44-17 in the second round of the Final 6 playoffs in front of a crowd of 4,267 fans at Yokohama Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

With the victory, the Impulse has advanced to the Japan X Bowl, the league’s championship game, on Dec. 13 against the Kajima Deers, who defeated the Asahi Soft Drinks Challengers 24-7 at Osaka’s Nagai Stadium on Saturday.

Quarterback Tetsuo Takata threw for 243 yards on a 18-for-26 passing with a touchdown to lead Panasonic Electric Works’ air attack, while its running backs combined for 243 yards on the ground.

Meanwhile, the Impulse defense also stepped up and held the Oaks’ unsparing offense, which led the league scoring 260 points (52 per game) in the five-game regular season, to 321 yards.

“We were just too good today,” Impulse head coach Hirokazu Murakami said with a satisfied grin after the game.

“I was aware that maybe I wouldn’t be able to stop (Onward’s) run game and it would be our issue to face in this game. But our players overcame that with confidence.”

With the game tied at 3 apiece, the Impulse seized the momentum on defense with two interceptions by defensive back Yoshikuni Nakayama in the second quarter.

Capitalizing on the big plays, it built a 20-10 margin at halftime and then expanded it to 34-10 with two touchdowns in the third period to ensure the victory.

“I’m extremely pleased,” said running back Masahiro Ishino, who had two run TDs for Panasonic Electric Works. “Our linemen blocked really well so the only thing I was taking care of was to make sure I rushed holding the ball firmly.”

Tsuyoshi Takeda led the contest with 84 yards rushing and Takatoshi Kobayashi had two TDs for the Impulse.

“I didn’t expect this at all,” Takata said of the big win. “Because their (Onward’s) offense is strong, even if we give up points we were going to win by outscoring them.”

The winner of the Japan X Bowl, which kicks off at 6 p.m. at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, will take on the collegiate champions in the Rice Bowl on Jan. 3 at Tokyo Dome.