More Sports / Football

BigBlue hold off Silver Star in thriller

by Hiroshi Ikezawa

Staff Writer

Ryo Takagi rushed 37 yards for the decisive score and defensive back Go Sano made a touchdown-saving pass defense on the final play as the IBM BigBlue improved to 2-1 with a 34-27 win over the Asahi Beer Silver Star on Sunday at Fujitsu Stadium Kawasaki.

The Silver Star fell to 1-2.

Rookie BigBlue quarterback Yuki Masamoto started over former UCLA passer Kevin Craft, who is recovering from a shoulder injury, for the third consecutive game and completed 24 of 41 passes for 249 yards and two touchdowns while throwing two interceptions. IBM head coach Shinzo Yamada said Craft was ready to play if needed, but stayed on the sideline.

“Our current focus is make the playoffs, no matter what the seed is,” Yamada said. “We want to enter the playoffs (in November) in the best condition. Kevin could play, but we decided not to play him today (to give him more time to recover).”

Silver Star quarterback Mason Mills hit Yuta Hayashi for two touchdowns in the second quarter to establish an early 13-3 lead (one of the extra-point kicks was blocked).

The BigBlue, however, countered with three unanswered scores — all from Masamoto’s touchdown passes to make the score 24-13 at the end of the third quarter. The left-handed Masamoto threw 15- and 4-yard passes to Takashi Kurihara, and hit Yutaro Taki with a 3-yard strike.

The game turned into a thriller when the second of Masamoto’s interceptions became a 27-yard touchdown rush by Silver Star running back Takuya Yanagisawa 1:45 into the final quarter.

After the two-point conversion failed, the BigBlue widened their lead to 27-19 on Kenki Odakura’s 29-yard field goal.

In the first play of the next possession, Yanagihara scored another touchdown with a 68-yard run and the successful two-pointer tied the game 27-27 with 7:12 to play.

Then Takagi’s 37-yard scoring run gave the BigBlue the lead for good.

The Silver Star advanced to the BigBlue 11 when time expired, but a personal foul gave them one more play. Mills threw to Atsushi Uehiro, but the pass was cut out by Sano to end the game.

“In the past, we could well have lost this kind of see-saw game,” Yamada said. “Now we have improved enough to win these games. I’m not satisfied yet, but we are improving.”

In the other games on Sunday, the Keishicho Eagles (1-2) beat the Bulls (0-3) 28-8, while the Obic Seagulls (3-0) defeated the Lixil Deers (2-1) 27-13.

GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5