Japan wins close Pacific Rim Bowl 28-21

Shunsuke Wada caught a 77-yard touchdown pass from Shoma Taniguchi midway through the fourth quarter and the Japan All-Stars held off Ashland the rest of the way for a 28-21 victory in the highest-scoring Pacific Rim Bowl ever Friday night at Walter A. Phillips Field.

The exhibition win was Japan’s fourth straight and fifth overall in the 10-game series, which dates back to 1988. Ashland put up its best fight since the 1999 PRB, however, tying the game at 21 on the first play of the fourth quarter.

“What a great game regardless of the score,” Ashland head coach Charlie Hall said. “I’m always disappointed when we don’t win a game — I guess I need to be realistic about some of the mistakes that were made that are very correctable.”

One of those mistakes, a fumble on a punt return, set up Japan’s first touchdown, a 15-yard Taniguchi-to-Wada hook-up.

Ashland scored first on Matt Dierks’ 22-yard pass to Lewis Sebrell on the Grizzlies’ opening drive. Sebrell led Ashland with 118 rushing yards, 41 receiving yards and two TDs, while Dierks completed 14 of 23 passes for 167 yards, one score and no interceptions.

Two Japan TDs followed, and Ashland tied the game on Julian Ewald’s 19-yard spin-and-burst with 2:34 to go in the first half. Japan reclaimed the lead on Masaki Matsubara’s 29-yard touchdown pass to Yusuke Sagehari with 32 seconds left in the half.

Wada caught four passes for 102 receiving yards and three scores while Matsubara had five catches for 85 yards. On the decisive play, Wada caught Taniguchi’s pass in stride down the right sideline on third-and-11.

“The was the best pass for our team,” Japan coach Toshio Sakurama said, through an interpreter.

Sebrell’s second score, a 14-yard run, opened the fourth quarter. Ashland then stalled on its last two drives, failing to move the ball beyond their own 45. The Grizzlies’ last gasp was thwarted when Dierks was drilled from behind on a fourth-and-10 pass with 42 seconds to go.

Pacific Rim Bowl X – Japan All-Stars vs. Ashland High School

Second-half of Pacific Rim Football game (edited)

The All-Stars from Japan took a trip to nearby Crater Lake for fun in the sun.

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Current Comments:
Good for Ashland, and for Japan. But probably few realize that it is not a good omen for the United States – when one thinks of football, Japan would not have come to mind. Yet the edge of having universal health and preventive care that has allowed the Japanese to become taller, stronger, faster, and healthier than ever before is starting to reveal itself in the ever-growing string of victories of its high-school all-star teams over the fast-food-eating American squads.
Dwight Spencer – Portland, OR – July 28th, 7:06 AM
Dwight I resent your attempt to politicize our Pacific Rim Bowl. The fact that we lost to japan has nothing to do with healthcare systems. The Japanese All-Stars are recruited from 20+ schools. This year 200 players tried out for the team, 45 were selected. Ashland’s team comes from 1 school with an enrollment of about 1000. But all this doesn’t really matter because the game isn’t about wiining, losing, or politics, it is about friendship.
Steve Dierks – Ashland – July 28th, 10:32 AM
Run for cover dwight…the sky is falling…..
Don’t worry we dominate in football!!!
“On July 10, the USA won their first game ever 77-0 against South Korea in the first round of the 2007 IFAF World Cup. In the second round team USA defeated Germany 33-7. They played Japan on July 15th for the championship and won in double overtime 23-20, handing the defending champions their first ever loss in international play.”
Joseph – Ashland, OR – July 28th, 1:25 PM
This was a wonderful experience for all involved & I 2nd Steve’s emotion re; the friendship factor! As a “Host Mom” I want to take this opportunity to thank the AHS Football Coaches, Staff, Players & Families for invitng our family to be a part of this memorable event. The camaraderie of the families and players for both teams was above & beyond. I am impressed with the maturity and warmth our guys showed the All Stars, no doubt due to the examples set by their Familes & Coaches.
Joleen – Ashland – July 28th, 1:35 PM
dwight, the healthcare has nothing to do with the athletes of japan, the reason that the japanese are winning is because football is becoming popular in japan because they love everything american; their #1 sport???…..BASEBALL!! also ashland isn’t the team they used to be and this japan squad was selected from about 50 high schools…Thanks
cdang – ashland – July 28th, 1:42 PM
Hey Steve,

Football is about laying it all out every play for the team with the ultimate goal of winning the game. Friendships are made off the field of play.
Backer4Life – Grants Pass, OR – July 29th, 7:35 AM
Backer4Life, Your absolutely right and that’s the way the game was played. I just thought it was silly to try to create a political issue out of a football game. As you probably know, here in Ashland you never know what may become an issue.
Steve Dierks – Ashland – July 29th, 9:09 AM
Their play in Friday night’s game bodes well for the Grizzlie season. Not only did they play well against an all-star team, one thing that few Ashland fans know is that in Japan a high school student only plays one sport and they play all year. While the all-star team had only been together for about two weeks, each player had been practicing and playing continuously for two or three years. That was noticable in their skill players. Given that , the Grizzlies did quite well.
Bruce Evans – Talent, OR – July 30th, 11:33 PM
Hi! I am a staff member of Japan all star team. It was a great experience for all of us. We love people and the community of Ashland. A game or friendship? Of course, kids played to win. But above all, it is a wonderful exchange we have over two decades! For us, there are still a lot to learn from Ashland football. We are not happy because we won; we are happy because we still have a strong bonding between us. If you want to criticize or say something, come and see the game in year 2011. Thanks!

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