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The X League championship is heading to western Japan for the first time since 2008. So is the overall national championship.

Tetsuo Takata threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Taiji Koyama with 1:11 remaining as the Panasonic Impulse defeated the defending national champion Fujitsu Frontiers 24-21 on Monday at Tokyo Dome in the 29th Japan X Bowl.

It was the first X League title since 2008 and seventh overall for the Impulse, who play collegiate champion Ritsumeikan University of Kyoto Prefecture for the overall national title in the Rice Bowl on Jan. 3 at Tokyo Dome.

“My players did a great job. That’s all I can say now,” Panasonic head coach Nobuyoshi Araki said. “The players have grown as human beings. That is what I’m happy about.”

Takata, who went into the game with three overall national championships already under his belt, had another heroic big-game performance.

With the Frontiers up 21-10 midway through the fourth quarter, Impulse linebacker Shogo Matsunaga intercepted Fujitsu quarterback Colby Cameron’s first-down pass and returned it to the Frontiers 47.

On the very next play, Takata hit Tatsuya Tonka with a spectacular scoring strike to make the score 21-16 (two-point conversion failed).

After forcing the Frontiers to a three-and-out, the Impulse had the ball at the Frontiers 33. Takata led the five-play winning drive that was capped by a 15-yarder to Koyama, then ran into the end zone and a successful two-point conversion gave them a 24-21 lead.

The Impulse forced Cameron to fumble on fourth-down-10 and recovered the ball for the victory.

“I was struggling earlier in the game. This is a team effort,” Takata, the game’s MVP said. “In the past, we might have lost this type of game. But we never gave up tonight. This is our mentality.”

The Frontiers took a 7-0 lead when Cameron threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to rookie tight end Yuji Mizuno in the first possession. But the Frontiers failed to score in the next six possessions.

The Impulse started slow offensively and their only drive to the Frontiers’ red zone (inside 20 yards) did not come until late in the second quarter. They advanced to the Frontiers 9, but were kept scoreless when a run play by Shun Yokota on fourth-down-1 was stopped with 0:47 left in the first half.

Rather than kneeling down to run out the clock, the Frontiers chose to play out the first half, but it turned out to be a bad decision. Cameron’s pass on the third play was picked off by Emory Polley, who returned it for pick six, making it a 7-7 tie at halftime.

“I knew they were going to be trying to get out of bounds and play the sidelines because of the two-minute situation,” said Polley. “So I played off, showed off, but I was looking for it. I read the receiver, read his job and I cut it.

“The main this was getting pressure, first and foremost. We tried to disguise looks a little bit. Just trying to always confuse him, because we knew he was going to be able to throw the ball, as he did, he kind of torched us. But we were able to make some plays, which was good.”

The Impulse made it to 10-7 on a field goal with 9:45 remaining in the third quarter, but the Frontiers wasted no time in countering, making it 14-10 on Cameron’s 16-yard scoring toss to Junpei Yoshimoto.

Cameron threw another touchdown pass, this time to Takeshi Akiyama, making it a two-possession game with 7:08 left in the final quarter. They looked to have taken one step closer to defending their title when they forced a punt to the Impulse with 5:21 to go, but Matsunaga’s interception brought the momentum back to the Impulse.

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