Seagulls claim record fifth Rice Bowl win
(January 4, 2012) – X League champion Obic Seagulls celebrated a record-setting fifth Rice Bowl win defeating college champion Kwansei Gakuin University Fighters 38-28 in front of more than 25.000 fans at the Tokyo Dome. The defending japanese champion, playing in the Rice Bowl for the sixth time, also won the national championship in 1996, 1998 and 2005.
The Seagulls needed a strong second half to come back for the win. For large parts of the game the Fighters looked like the better team, taking a 17-11 lead into the fourth quarter. The matchwinner for the Seagulls once again was QB Shun Sugawara. After a disappointing first half Sugawara stepped up after the halftime break. On the first play of the fourth quarter the Seagulls took the lead (18-17) for the first time with a 4-yard touchdown run by Sugawara, a play that was set up by a 45-yard pass from Sugawara to WR Ken Shimizu.
For one last time the Fighters were able to answer regaining the lead (20-18) with a 29-yard field goal. About six and a half minutes later Sugawara scored on a 14-yard run for a 24-20 Seagulls lead. The next two offensive series of the Fighters ended with interceptions, leading to two more touchdowns and a 38-20 lead for the Seagulls within a two and half minute span – the first one on a 25-yard pass from Sugawara to WR Takahito Anan and the second one, with just under two minutes left to play, on a 19-yard pass from Sugawara to WR Noriaki Kinoshita.