Silver Star Smother Pirates’ Unorthodox Offense

Yuta Hayashi scored all four Silver Star TDs - Chris Pfaff, Inside Sport: Japan, May 7, 2017
Yuta Hayashi scored all four Silver Star TDs - Chris Pfaff, Inside Sport: Japan, May 7, 2017

Asahi Beer opened their Pearl Bowl with an easy 28-3 victory over a Penta Ocean Pirates team that unveiled an offense that started out as novel, but quickly degraded into one-dimensional futility. QB Ryosuke Nishizawa is the only QB on the Pirates’ roster; however (despite standing on the sidelines in uniform) being injured meant all snaps under center went to tight end Hiroyuki Akatsu who handed the ball off or kept it himself on every play until halfway through the third quarter. You read that right, the Pirates attempted zero passes in the first half. The Pirates’ first drive looked promising as they marched down the field on a ten minute, 16 play drive that befuddled the Silver Star defense and resulted in a field goal. The field goal was kicked by none other than today’s makeshift wildcat operator, Hiroyuki Akatsu.

Pirates practice before the game. They didn't attempt a single pass in the first half - Chris Pfaff, Inside Sport: Japan, May 7, 2017
Pirates practice before the game. They didn't attempt a single pass in the first half - Chris Pfaff, Inside Sport: Japan, May 7, 2017

 Silver Star quickly made adjustments to their defensive scheme after the first drive and kept the Pirates from ever getting close to scoring again. Asahi had an unorthodox approach to this game as well, as every kick off they attempted was an onside kick. They fooled the Pirates on the first kick and using their extra possession went up two scores. They continued to kick onside kicks for the duration of the game, even when they were up by four scores. The Pirates never adjusted their formation, choosing instead to line up in a traditional return formation and increase the possibility of a successful Silver Star onside kick. Luckily for the Pirates, only the first kick was.

Hayashi caught nine of ten balls and drew a pass interference penalty - Chris Pfaff, Inside Sport: Japan, May 7, 2017
Hayashi caught nine of ten balls and drew a pass interference penalty - Chris Pfaff, Inside Sport: Japan, May 7, 2017

Jerry Rice-esque player of the Game: The odd play calls overshadowed what was a masterful performance by Silver Stars wide receiver Yuta Hayashi who snatched nine balls for 155 yards and four touchdowns in a clinic of the position. He caught every ball that was thrown to him, excluding one where he jumped back into the defender who never turned his head. Hayashi missed the seven yard catch, but his high football I.Q. got the pass interference call and netted his team 15 yards. He will be a man to watch as the group rounds are coming to a close.

- C.J. Ryan: May 7th 2017


Asahi Beer Silver Star (28) - (3) Meiji Yasuda Penta Ocean Pirates

Photos: Chris Pfaff - May 7th 2017: Fujitsu Stadium



Tokyo Gas Creators Best Bulls In Brawl

Never mind that the Creators jumped out in front of the Bulls 17-0 with five minutes left in the first. Pay no attention to the score which was never close as Tokyo Gas gained 41 points to the Bulls’ 21. This game wasn’t about the scores, it was about the energy and intensity these two teams fought with against each other. This was an absolute slug fest, a game that constantly blurred the line between solid play and penalty. This was the kind of game that saw punt returners be dealt punishing blows that jarred the ball loose. The kind of game where an offensive lineman decided that if he was going to be called for holding, he might as well drive his man into the ground. The kind of game where that same right tackle would be thrown to the ground with a decisive swipe so the defensive end could upend the quarterback for one of eight tackles for loss in the game. 

Bulls RB Keita Saruwatari celebrates his 4th quarter TD - Chris Pfaff, Inside Sport: Japan, May 7, 2017
Bulls RB Keita Saruwatari celebrates his 4th quarter TD - Chris Pfaff, Inside Sport: Japan, May 7, 2017

Normally when there are four turnovers in a game, including three egregious interceptions in the same quarter, and eight penalties you would call that game sloppy; but, sloppiness is not the proper word for this game. Physical is the only word that can give this game any justice. Whether it was a great play or a bone-headed mistake, these players laid their bodies out for their teammates. The two teams went home battered, one went home beaten, but both should hold their heads high.

Tokyo Gas' WR Daichi Iwakoshi takes a punt return to the house- Chris Pfaff, Inside Sport: Japan, May 7, 2017
Tokyo Gas' WR Daichi Iwakoshi takes a punt return to the house- Chris Pfaff, Inside Sport: Japan, May 7, 2017

Devin Hester-esque Play of the Day: With 7:00 left in the first quarter, the Bulls punted the ball for the first time to the Creators’ return specialist and backup wide receiver, Daichi Iwakoshi. Iwakoshi had burned the Bulls’ special teams on the initial kickoff for over 60 yards, but the Bulls didn’t learn their lesson. Iwakoshi caught the ball at the 50 and instantly dashed to the right and sped past the first two lines of coverage. He was eventually tracked down and a Bulls player got a piece of his jersey; but, Iwakoshi shook off the defender and stiff armed another before barreling into the endzone for a 50 yard return touchdown to put the Creators up 10-0. The Bulls made sure that the ball never got near #9 for the rest of the game.           

- C.J. Ryan: May 7th 2017


Tokyo Gas Creators (41) - (21) Bulls Football Club

Photos: Chris Pfaff - May 7th 2017: Fujitsu Stadium