Cyclones Blow Away Golden Fighters En Route to Green Bowl Challenge Final

In the last of the first series of games (and the only one played outside Kobe) Nagoya Cyclones showed the difference in class between most X1 teams and those in X2 with a comprehensive 27-3 win over Golden Fighters. Nagoya scored TDs in the air, on the ground and on an 87-yard punt return by Shoichi Matsubara. Matsubara also finished the day’s scoring in the third quarter with an 11-yard TD reception.

Golden Fighters found it hard to get any kind of momentum going and were limited to 69 yards of total offense. Their two FGs were scored by Yuya Adachi and one was a 50-yearder. That’s something you don’t see often in Japan, especially in the lower divisions were few teams have specialized kickers. Indeed Adachi is listed on a roster as a DB, which makes the distance all the more impressive

All four teams from the Green Bowl Challenge will play at Oji stadium on May 20th in the final round of games. The third / fourth place playoff between Golden Fighters and Sidewinders is first up at 11am followed by the final at between Cyclones and Club Hawkeye at 1:40pm.

 - John Gunning: May 6th 2017


Nagoya Cyclones (27) - (3) Golden Fighters

Photos: Edward Scruggs- May 6th 2017: Nagoya City Minato Soccer Stadium


Hawkeye Repeat Playoff Win Over Sidewinders In Green Bowl Challenge

Club Hawkeye's Yuma Nagayoshi tormented Sidewinders all game - Lionel Piguet, Inside Sport: Japan, May 6, 2017
Club Hawkeye's Yuma Nagayoshi tormented Sidewinders all game - Lionel Piguet, Inside Sport: Japan, May 6, 2017

Club Hawkeye continued their winning ways against rival Sidewinders in a wet Green Bowl Challenge semi-final in Kobe. This was a rematch of the game that saw the Sidewinders relegated to X2 and Club Hawkeye promoted to X1 at the end of last season. The game also featured former Panasonic Impulse QB, Yuma Nagayoshi, in his return to the league as WR and return specialist for Club Hawkeye.

Nagayoshi set the tone for the day on the opening kickoff, selling a fake lateral with a jump and sweeping overhand motion, before tucking the ball and slashing ahead for 22 yards. The Sidewinders would spend much of the day trying to keep up with Nagayoshi, who had three receptions for more than 10 yards and ran a punt back 62 yards for a touchdown. Nagayoshi said of the touchdown, “We used good technique as a team, I got early blocks and I’m happy but it’s not just me.”

Club Hawkeye's Yuma Nagayoshi had a punt return for a TD - Lionel Piguet, Inside Sport: Japan, May 6, 2017
Club Hawkeye's Yuma Nagayoshi had a punt return for a TD - Lionel Piguet, Inside Sport: Japan, May 6, 2017

It wasn’t just Nagayoshi. The whole Club Hawkeye offense was running smoothly throughout the day despite the rain and wind. Their balanced attack gained 150 yards on 30 carries and 178 yards on 15 of 29 passing. Exactly half of their 16 first downs were on passes and even as rain began to sweep across the field in the second quarter, they threw caution to the wind and threw the ball on fourth down from just outside the red zone. It worked.

The only play that wasn’t working for Club Hawkeye was the one trying to bowl big number 98 (RB Ryohei Kajiwara) through the line into the end zone. Kajiwara was stymied on both of his carries and using him to push a teammate from behind was no more successful.

Sidewinders TE Yusuke Nishikawa got his team's only score of the day - Lionel Piguet, Inside Sport: Japan, May 6, 2017
Sidewinders TE Yusuke Nishikawa got his team's only score of the day - Lionel Piguet, Inside Sport: Japan, May 6, 2017

The Sidewinders demonstrated how that play is supposed to be run, employing their captain, TE Yusuke Nishikawa, to punch through for a touchdown for their only score of the game, with just seconds on the clock in fourth quarter. Unable to get the point after, the Sidewinders lost 26-6.

Aside from the touchdown, the only other bright spot for the Sidewinders on a gloomy day was the first quarter play of DB Fumiya Okada. Early in the first drive, Okada nearly picked off starting QB Hiroki Endo on a short pass to the right but the ball bounced off his hands. On the next play Endo tested Okada again, but this time Okada tipped the ball to himself for the interception.

Amiya Okada (8) first quarter INT was one of Sidewinder's few bright spots - Lionel Piguet, Inside Sport: Japan, May 6, 2017
Amiya Okada (8) first quarter INT was one of Sidewinder's few bright spots - Lionel Piguet, Inside Sport: Japan, May 6, 2017

Despite the excellent field position the Sidewinders couldn’t score after the INT and generally had trouble getting the ball out of the backfield, gaining a meager 13 yards on 25 carries. It wasn’t a much better show in the air. Sidewinders QBs combined for 106 yards on 10 of 26 passing but were also sacked four times.

Club Hawkeye DL Kohei Oya had two of those sacks and Tetsuo Yoshida did his part with a sack for an 18 yard loss in the fourth quarter. That brought up fourth and long for the Sidewinders. Their punt was blocked and the ball bounced to DB Kei Kawasaki who ran it back 25 yards for the score.

With their win over Sidewinders, Club Hawkeye showed again they are the better team and deserved their promotion to X1. Their next game will be the Green Bowl Challenge final on May 20 at Kobe’s Oji Stadium, where they will face serious competition from the Nagoya Cyclones who beat Golden Fighters in the other semi-final.

 - Tony Chestnut: May 6th 2017


Club HawkEye (26) - (6) Sidewinders

Photos: Lionel Piguet- May 6th 2017: Oji Stadium