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Obic outplays IBM in second-stage opener

by Hiroshi Ikezawa

Staff Writer

Shun Sugawara, making his first start since Sept. 13, completed 19 of 30 passes for 226 yard and a score and Asaki Mochizuki had two rushing touchdowns as the Obic Seagulls beat the IBM BigBlue 34-26 on Saturday at Yokohama Stadium in the second-stage opener of the X League.

The Seagulls improved their overall season record to 4-2 to keep their playoff hopes alive while the BigBlue fell to 4-2.

“It was a restart for my team and myself. To make the playoffs, we have to go 2-0 in the second stage,” Sugawara said. “Since the loss to Fujitsu (on Oct. 17), we have changed our style of play. We have regained our offensive style. I would say it still is 60 percent, but by the next game against Asahi Soft Drinks next week, we want to make it to 100 percent.”

Two losses in first five games are uncharacteristic for the Seagulls, who had not had that many defeats since 1997 until this year. One more loss could make them miss playoffs for the first time since 2009.

But the eight-time X League champion overcame the high-scoring BigBlue with Sugawara at starting quarterback. He looked a little rusty early in the game, throwing an interception on his third attempt, which set up the BigBlue’s first touchdown.

However, Sugawara set the tune for the Seagulls by quick throws, scrambles and poise in the huddle. His game management helped produce four touchdown drives and two field goals for Obic.

Defense also contributed to the Seagulls’ win. It allowed 337 passing yards and two touchdown passes by Kevin Craft, but picked off his passes three times and had three sacks.

A punt block early in the second quarter gave the Seagulls possession on the BigBlue 21 and Mochizuki scored on a 4-yard run. This was the first of three unanswered scores by the Seagulls midway through the game, and the 17 points in the 19-minute span gave the Seagulls momentum and made the difference between the winner and the loser.

Earlier on Saturday at the same venue, Benjamin Dupree rushed for 140 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Panasonic Impulse to a 38-14 victory over the Asahi Beer Silver Star.

Dupree added 8 receiving yards and 69 yards on kickoff and punt returns, bringing his total all-purpose yardage to 217 for the unbeaten Impulse (6-0). The Silver Star fell to 4-2.

At Expo Stadium in Osaka, the defending national champion Fujitsu Frontiers (6-0) defeated the Elecom Finies (3-3) 28-7.