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Monday, June 14, 2010

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Up the middle: Fujitsu running back Yuichi Kon rushes during the Pearl Bowl semifinal game against Kajima. HIROSHI IKEZAWA

Kon carries Frontiers into Pearl Bowl final

Staff writer

KAWASAKI — Running back Yuichi Kon rushed for 133 yards and two touchdowns, leading the Fujitsu Frontiers to a 20-17 victory over the Kajima Deers on Sunday in the semifinals of the Pearl Bowl Tournament. The Frontiers take on the Obic Seagulls, who defeated the Meiji Yasuda Pirates 62-7 in the other semifinal game on Sunday, in the final on July 1 at Tokyo Dome.

"Our defense has been improving the past couple seasons. We struggled a little early in the game, but didn't give up many points, which was good." Fujitsu head coach Satoshi Fujita said. "We haven't beat the Deers recently. I'm glad we won today."

Playing before a crowd of 2,364 at Kawasaki Stadium, the Frontiers got off to an early success when they scored a touchdown on Kon's 34-yard scoring run in their first offensive drive. The Frontiers, starting at their own 37-yard line, needed six rushing plays without throwing the ball for a 7-0 first-quarter lead.

In the next possession, the defending Pearl Bowl champions Deers advanced to the Frontiers' 2-yard line, but failed to score as the Frontiers defense stopped two consecutive running plays inside the 2.

Fujitsu's defense again denied the Deers a scoring chance in the second quarter by stopping a fourth-and-1 play at its own 13-yard line. The defense's performance gave the momentum to the offense, which widened the lead to 10-0 on a 42-yard field goal with 7:46 left in the first half.

The Deers offense revived when Yosuke Ozaki replaced Atsushi Nakata at quarterback in the second period. Ozaki showed polished passing plays to lead a six-play, 54-yard scoring drive, that was capped by a 6-yard run by Yasuhiro Maruta, making the score 10-7 at the halftime.

The Deers tied the score 10-10 with 2:35 to go in the third quarter, but the Frontiers grabbed back the momentum quickly as Kon rushed 71 yards for the go-ahead score in the next possession. The Frontiers added three points with a field goal, erasing 5:50 off the clock midway in the final quarter.

The Deers, however, stayed in the game when Ozaki, taking the field again in the fourth quarter, guided his team to an 11-play, 75-yard scoring drive with 13 second to go. But the Deers' hopes of a second straight Pearl Bowl title were killed when Fujitsu receiver Satoshi Kawase recovered the onside kick by the Deers to end the game.

In the other game on Sunday, Obic running back Masatoshi Sugihara scored three rushing touchdowns including a 59-yarder in the third quarter to lead the Seagulls' offense, which scored eight touchdowns and two field goals to trounce the Pirates.

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