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Shirakami leads Deers to win over Silver Star

by Hiroshi Ikezawa

Staff Writer

Yuki Shirakami carried 13 times for a season-high 189 yards and two touchdowns, guiding the Lixil Deers to a 37-7 triumph over the Asahi Beer Silver Star on Sunday at Fujitsu Stadium Kawasaki.

Shirakami, who joined the Deers (2-1) from the Asahi Soft Drinks Chargers this season, scored on 22- and 31-yard runs. He also added 12 yards on a catch, accounting for 48 percent of the distance the Deers offense gained.

“Shirakami has speed and power, and he showed it today,” Deers head coach Hajime Tominaga said. “The more he gets used to our offense, which is new to him, the better he will be. I saw him a bit more comfortable than before today.”

The Deers defense was also dominant as it held the Silver Star (1-2) minus-4 yards on the ground and only 248 yards in total.

After a 17-0 halftime score, the Silver Star scored their lone touchdown when Kazuma Ando hit Yuta Hayashi with a 3-yard strike in the first possession of the third quarter. But the Silver Star were forced to punt in the next drive, failing to keep the momentum.

The Deers widened the lead with Shirakami’s second score in the closing seconds of the third quarter, then added a field goal early in the fourth after Keisuke Waki intercepted a pass by reserve quarterback Takafumi Suzuki, making it 27-7.

The Silver Star’s comeback attempt ended when they missed two fourth-down conversions late in the final quarter.

“We have been working on overcoming slow starts that hurt our team last year and we were able to take an early lead today,” Tominaga said. “We also could get points offensively after big defensive plays. We’re getting a good rhythm on both sides of the ball.”