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Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2007

Impulse claim X Bowl

Staff writer

Some football coaches believe defense wins the games. Others say turnovers cost a game. Both turned out true as the Matsushita Denko Impulse defeated the Fujitsu Frontiers 33-13 on Monday in the Japan X Bowl.

With the victory, the Impulse clinched their first X League championship since 2004 and fifth overall. The Impulse take on Kwansei Gakuin University, the collegiate champion, for the overall national title in the Rice Bowl on Jan. 3, 2008, at Tokyo Dome.

Before the 17,629 crowd at Tokyo Dome, the Impulse scored 13 points off the Frontiers' five takeaways and their stingy defense held the opponents, who recorded 346.4 yards and 34.6 points per game during the regular season, to 243 yards and only one offensive touchdown.

"Turnovers hurt the Frontiers," the Impulse head coach Hirokazu Murakami said. "We established an early lead and that took their running game away."

The Frontiers gave a surprise to the Impulse by displaying various offensive formations in the first drive. They put center on either end or second from either end of the offensive line instead of the normal middle position. They also used three quarterbacks almost alternately as well as a lot of direct snaps to backs or receivers.

Murakami admitted he had no idea how to adjust the unfamiliar offense on the scheme basis. "But somehow, my players found the way to stop them on the ground. They played well physically tonight," he said.

The Frontiers succeeded in surprising the Impulse, but failed to score. They marched to the Impulse's 16-yard line in their first possession, but a field goal attempt by Tatsuru Hase failed wide left.

In the next drive, the Impulse drew first blood as quarterback Tetsuo Takata hit Shinji Shimokawa with a 12-yard scoring strike.

The Impulse wasted no time to get the ball back when Yasuyoshi Miwa recovered a fumble by the Frontiers on the kickoff return at the Frontiers' 21-yard line. Three plays later, Masahiro Ishino rushed 1 yard for a touchdown, establishing a 14-0 lead.

Right after the Impulse widened their lead to 17-0 on Mashiro Ota's 41-yard field goal, the Frontiers finally countered back when Koji Yoneyama returned a kickoff 90 yards for a score in the last second of the first quarter, though the kick for the extra point was blocked.

The Impulse, however, refused to let the momentum shift to the opponents by breaking open the second period with an 11-play, 71-yard touchdown drive that took 4:32 off the clock. The Frontiers committed another lost fumble in the next possession that was connected to a 25-yard field goal by Ota, making the score 27-6 before halftime.

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