KAWASAKI – Fujitsu quarterback Colby Cameron ran for a touchdown just over two minutes into the game in his team’s first drive of the day.
But the two teams ended up making the rest of the game more like a defensive contest.
The Frontiers struggled to add further points on the board yet managed to play solidly enough both offensively and defensively in their 7-0 win over the Obic Seagulls in the X League playoff semifinals on Sunday afternoon.
The Frontiers, the reigning league champion, now advance to the Japan X Bowl for the fifth consecutive season.
“I’m relieved, to be honest with you,” Fujitsu head coach Satoshi Fujita said after the game. “But I want to give credit to our players because they played so patiently.”
A full-house crowd of 4,047 at Fujitsu Stadium Kawasaki arrived for a marquee X League matchup between two powerhouse clubs.
The Frontiers successfully completed their first drive of the game with a Cameron rushing TD, and kicker Hidetetsu Nishimura made the extra point.
But the Seagulls defense regrouped after that and shut the Frontiers out for the remainder of the game.
American Al-Rilwan Adeyami, who was one of the Frontiers’ defensive heroes, said after the game: “We jumped on them early, and its important that you go down and score. But as the game goes on, defense is going to figure out what you are doing. I think their defense did a good job buckling down.”
The problem for Obic, however, was that it could not put something other than a zero on the scoreboard against the Frontiers defense.
The Seagulls constantly switched quarterbacks between American Ikaika Woolsey and veteran Shun Sugawara, trying to get their offense going. Yet the Fujitsu D stood tall in their way.
In Obic’s final drive, quarterback Sugawara attempted a pass to Shingo Maeda but threw a weak ball under pressure from Fujitsu linebacker Trashaun Nixon. Adeyami picked it off with 42 seconds left and sealed the win.
“It was a tremendous game all around,” Adeyami said. “Our defense played well, our offense played well. Their defense played . . . I mean, kudos to their team. Their defense had to play well, because our offense score a lot of points. And to hold us to seven points, it’s a tough feat in itself. And it was a team win.
“Obviously, with the clock management at the end, we did a good job of just taking what they gave us.”
Adeyami, a University of San Diego alum, humbly said that the game-clinching interception at the end of the game was a “team effort” because the team’s coaching staff prepared the players well from their film study.
“So it comes from film study and our coaches say, “Look, they are going to run this route,’ ” Adeyami said. “And if you see it in practice, and you come to the game, it becomes a second nature.
“(So) I’ll take 20 percent of the credit.”
Overall, Obic allowed two giveaways, both on interceptions, and it wound up costing it the game. The Chiba Prefecture-based Seagulls struggled on third down conversions as well, and they got first downs just three times from 11 opportunities.
One of the biggest reasons why the Frontiers had a hard time offensively was that they did not play American running back Gino Gordon, who has a left foot injury. He suited up, but was kept on the sidelines.
Cameron said that Fujitsu’s other running backs did a good job and “it doesn’t matter if we win 2-0, but you want to score more.”
“We’ve got to go to the film room and get our offense better,” said Cameron, who threw for 179 yards and ran for a game-high 50 yards.
Meanwhile, ex-NFL tight end — and Cameron’s older brother — Jordan Cameron flew from the United States to cheer on his brother.
“I thought (Colby) played well,” said Jordan, who retired from the NFL earlier this year. “He did what he needed to do. No turnovers, which is really good out of the quarterback. He used his legs a lot today. Got the first downs when they needed. So it was a good day for him.”
In the other semifinal, the IBM BigBlue defeated the Panasonic Impulse 31-24 at Osaka’s Kincho Stadium.
The Frontiers and BigBlue will square off in the Japan X Bowl on Dec. 18 at Tokyo Dome.