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Champion Seagulls rout Cranes to start season

by Hiroshi Ikezawa

Staff Writer

The four-time defending national champion Obic Seagulls got off to a strong start in their challenge for a fifth consecutive title by blanking the Taiyo Building Management Cranes 86-0 on Sunday at Kawasaki Fujimi Stadium in the X League Central Division.

Nine different players had at least one touchdown for the Seagulls, who scored 12 touchdowns and a field goal in their season opener. Starting quarterback Shun Sugawara completed 9 of 14 passed for 174 yards and three scores. Tataeru Nakanishi scored two rushing touchdowns while Asaki Mochizuki had a pair of 4-yard scoring runs.

The Seagulls’ special teams also gave an outstanding performance, returning three punts for a combined 205 yards including a 96-yard return touchdown by Shota Matsunaga. Masashi Fujimoto returned the only kickoff 85 yards for a score at the beginning of the third quarter.

Defensively, defensive backs Yuichi Watanabe, Kiezaburo Isagawa and defensive end Kevin Jackson each marked an interception to snap the Cranes’ offense, which was held to only 70 total yards.

“We had a big lead early in the game and that enabled us to use a lot of second-, third-string players,” Obic head coach Makoto Ohashi said. “One of the goals of today’s game was keep playing the fundamentals. Despite an early lead, we kept focused on the game to achieve that goal.”