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Silver Star storm past Blues after slow start

by Hiroshi Ikezawa

Staff Writer

The Asahi Beer Club Silver Star overcame a sluggish start and scored 34 unanswered points to defeat the Bulls 34-14 on Saturday at Kawasaki Fujimi Stadium in an X League Central Division game.

Yoshitaka Sakurai kicked four field goals for the Silver Star while the defense shut out the Bulls in the second half.

The Silver Star were vulnerable against the Bulls running attack in the first quarter, making tackling mistakes and assignment errors. The Bulls displayed option plays that were effective to keep drives alive. The Bulls took a 14-0 lead midway through the second quarter on quarterback Keita Fujiwara’s 14-yard run 5:22 into the first quarter and his 5-yard scoring pass to Ryuji Takahama seven minutes later.

The Bulls, however, failed to score the rest of the game. Meanwhile, the Silver Star gained offensive rhythm, though they had a hard time of finding the end zone. Sakurai made two field goals in the second quarter to cut the lead to 14-6 at halftime.

The Silver Star switched quarterbacks from starter Reona Takahashi to Kazuma Ando late in the second quarter and that helped set the tone for their passing attack. Ando completed 11 of 18 passes for 176 yards and a score.

After another field goal by Sakurai cut the Bulls lead to 14-9, running back Yoshihiro Matsuzaki rushed 19 yards for the Silver Star’s first touchdown with 4:50 left in the third quarter, taking a 17-14 lead after a successful two-point conversion. The Silver Star added two more touchdowns — Hikaru Akiyama’s 54-yard run and Ando’s 48-yard pass to Shingo Hamada — and Sakurai’s fourth field goal of the day in the final period to put the game away.

“We gave away the momentum by making the mistakes early in the game and it took awhile to grab it back,” Asahi Beer head coach Yasumoto Sasaki said. “What we need now is a player who shows leadership in the game like today. We need somebody stepping up.”

In other X League games on Saturday, the IBM BigBlue routed the Meiji Yasuda Pirates 72-14 at Sendai Track and Field Stadium in the East Division, while the Elecom Kobe Finies beat the Panasonic Impulse 24-21 in overtime at Kobe’s Oji Stadium in the West Division.