Running back Yasuhiro Kabata rushed for 126 yards in an X League championship record-setting 33 carries, leading the Onward Skylarks to a 13-10 victory over the Asahi Beer Silver Star on Tuesday at Tokyo Dome in the Japan X Bowl.

It was the first X League crown for the Onward Skylarks team, which was established in 2001 in a merger of the Onward Oaks and the Skylarks.

The game turned out to be a defensive battle, but the Skylarks ran the ball a lot to wear out the stingy Silver Star defense.

The Skylarks got on the scoreboard first when Atsushi Machida returned a blocked punt for a 7-yard touchdown with 10:20 remaining in the first quarter.

The Silver Star responded with Takashi Yoshioka’s 1-yard scoring run 55 seconds before halftime.

The Skylarks marched 77 yards on 11 plays in the first drive of the third quarter, capping it with a 1-yard touchdown plunge by Toshiki Kaneko to make the score 13-7.

The extra point failed. The Silver Star countered with a 41-yard field goal later in the third quarter, but fell short of clinching their first X League championship since 1999.

Kabata was named the game’s MVP. The Skylarks will play the collegiate champion, which will be decided between Hosei University and Ritsumeikan University this Sunday in the Koshien Bowl, on Jan. 3 for the overall national championship in the Rice Bowl.

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