Taisuke Miyagawa needs some more time to make his comeback, but the Nihon University Phoenix have returned to college football.
Junior quarterback Taiki Hayashi threw a 72-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Junnosuke Kishizawa on the first play of a 42-0 rout of the Nippon Sport Science University Triumphant Lion at NSSU campus in Tokyo on Saturday afternoon.
It was the Phoenix’s first Kantoh Collegiate Football Association game since last May.
“I am happy to win this game, but more than that, I’m pleased to play a game with this team,” said Isao Hashizume, who became the Phoenix head coach in last September. “We could show we have made a new start.”
Miyagawa, a defensive lineman, did not play but was on the sideline in street clothes supporting his teammates.
“Miyagawa suffered a hamstring injury a few weeks back. Also, we want to wait until prosecution makes an official judgment on him (for an assault charge) before playing him,” Hashizume said of Miyagawa not taking the field.
Miyagawa was not made available to speak to the media afterward.
The KCFA decided last July to give the Phoenix a one-season ban after the infamous illegal tackle incident, where Miyagawa made an lte on Kwansei Gakuin University quarterback Kosei Okuno on May 6, 2018, during an exhibition contest.
The ban was lifted when the league year ended on March 31.
Due to the ban, the Phoenix were demoted to the second division. They have to climb back to the Top Eight, the KCFA’s top league, this season before striving for another collegiate national championship next year or later.
“The Phoenix have a rich tradition and are a team that aims for the championship every season,” team captain Tokiya Nieda said. “Our ultimate goal is becoming the college champion again. To make it happen, we need to win the division and get promoted so that this team can play for the national championship as early as next season.”