/

Sloppy Seagulls beat Silver Star

by Hiroshi Ikezawa

Staff Writer

Shun Sugawara overcame three turnovers — two interceptions and a lost fumble — to throw two touchdown passes as the three-time defending champion Obic Seagulls defeated the Asahi Beer Silver Star 21-7 on Monday at Tokyo’s Oi No. 2 Stadium in the X League.

The Seagulls, who stayed unbeaten with a 6-0 record, moved one step closer to an unprecedented fourth consecutive X League championship while the Silver Star dropped to 3-3.

The Seagulls, known as an offensive powerhouse, got off to a sluggish start, finishing their early possessions with three punts, an interception and a lost fumble.

They finally scored when Sugawara hit Noriaki Kinoshita with 3-yard touchdown pass with 39 seconds remaining in the first half.

The Seagulls took seized the momentum when they opened the second half with an eight-play, 41-yard touchdown drive that gave them a 14-0 lead. Sugawara’s 15-yard pass to Ken Shimizu on third-and-15 on Silver Star 22-yard line was the highlight of the drive.

But Sugawara’s first interception of the day gave the ball to the Silver Star on its own 48-yard line.

The Silver Star, alternating between quarterbacks Kazuma Ando and Minoru Tono, advanced to the Seagulls 11-yard line on nine plays.

On fourth down, the Silver Star faked a field goal attempt, and wide receiver Kazuya Togura took the snap and threw a touchdown pass to Kentaro Umeda with 4:47 to go in the third quarter.

On the ensuing possession, the Seagulls marched to the Silver Star 21-yard line, but Asahi defensive back Masato Mogi intercepted Sugawara’s pass in the end zone to deny the Seagulls’ scoring chance.

After exchanging a couple of punts, however, the Seagulls managed to extend their lead when Koji Yamazaki rushed 15 yards for a score with 11:52 left in the game, making the score 21-7 that turned out the final score.

“I can’ t say that we, not only players but coaches, took this game seriously enough,” Obic heach coach Makoto Ohashi said. “We were not able to do what we expected to be able to do. You can’t miss easy passes or allow the opponent to make a special play that you knew they would use.

“We have to learn from this game. You have to stand up yourself. You can’t expect someone else to stand up for you. We have to improve in two weeks (before the next game).”