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Monday, June 19, 2006

Elias leaves crowd hungry for more

Staff writer

Japanese football players and coaches got more than just a taste of U.S. football, they got the full flavor of the NFL, when Keith Elias took the field with or against them in the third annual Ivy-Samurai Bowl on Sunday.

The 34-year-old Elias, a Princeton University product who has played for the New York Giants and Indianapolis Colts, carried 23 times for 169 yards to help the mixed team of Princeton and Kanto College League Block B to a 26-7 victory over Penn-Block A at Tokyo's Komazawa Olympic Stadium.

In front of 10,880 football fans in rainy weather, Elias dominated the Quakers side with his powerful running style. Although he did not score a touchdown, Elias set the tone for the Tigers from the beginning, with the Quakers finding it hard to stop him. The Tigers eventually gained 320 yards on the ground.

Elias played for Princeton from 1991-93 and set 21 club records in rushing. He joined the Giants as a rookie free agent in '94 and played mainly on special teams for three seasons before going to Indianapolis, where he spent two years. He added a stint in another pro football league to his resume when he played in the XFL in its only season in 2001.

Elias said he used to clock 4.39 seconds in the 40-yard dash in his heyday. But even if he's loss some of that old speed and power, Elias was still too much for these Japanese college players to stop.

"(Elias) brings great leadership, and I thought he could be very good for the Japanese people, to instill a passion for the game," Princeton head coach Roger Hughes said. "I hope Japanese players could get the most out of playing with a player of his character."

The Tigers had three straight scores for an unanswered 20-0 lead by the end of the third quarter. Nihon University running back Yuichi Kon scored the team's second touchdown on a 68-yard reverse in the second quarter.

Meanwhile, the Quakers struggled on offense. The Tigers defense held their opponents to only two first downs in the first three quarters, one of which was owing to a pass interference call against the Tigers in the 45th minute.

The Quakers' cylinders finally started to fire when quarterback Mike Mitchell's arm loosened up in the fourth quarter. Mitchell had 21- and 29-yard strikes during an 8-play, 43-yard scoring drive that was capped by Sam Matthews' 4-yard run into the end zone.

But this would be the Quakers' only score of the game, while the Tigers added a 12-yard touchdown run with 46 seconds remaining from reserve quarterback Nobuo Kamata of Kanagawa University to close out the lopsided contest.

Elias duly received the "Best Samurai" MVP award, while honors for Japanese MVP went to Waseda University quarterback Tomotsuna Inoue, who completed 13 of 17 passes for 122 yards and a touchdown.

Williams impresses

TORONTO (AP) Ricky Williams needed a little time to get going in his CFL debut.

After gaining 8 yards in the first half, the former Dolphins running back finished with 97 yards on 18 carries in the Toronto Argonauts' 27-17 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Saturday in the regular-season opener for both teams.

The Argos, especially in the first half, seemed content to use Williams as a decoy rather than a ball carrier. The former Heisman Trophy winner had three carries, and two catches for 24 yards in the half.

Williams was especially impressive in the fourth quarter, with Toronto protecting a 24-17 lead. He had 11 carries for 72 yards, including a 35-yard run after rookie Jermaine Mays' interception put the Argos at their 20-yard line.

Williams is playing in the CFL after he was suspended by the NFL for one year following a fourth positive drug test.

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