Sunday, July 15, 2007

United States Outlast Japan for IFAF Title

by Todd Bell, USA Football

KAWASAKI, JAPAN – Nebraska-Omaha’s Kyle Kasperbauer rushed for two touchdowns and Southern Illinois’ Craig Coffin kicked three field goals, including a game-winning 23-yarder in overtime as the United States rallied to defeat Japan, 23-20 in the title game of the 2007 World Championship of American Football at Todoroki Stadium on rainy, windswept Sunday afternoon.

Kasperbauer rushed for 41 yards on the day and was named the MVP of the tournament. In three games he rushed for 168 yards and three touchdowns.

"The biggest thing was to come out here and represent our country and we did a good job of that," Kasperbauer said. "When Craig kicked that ball through the uprights it was bliss. You couldn't ask for a better ending."

The tournament victory is the first for the United States, which made its first appearance in the world championship this year. Japan had won the previous two tournaments in 1999 and 2003 and was looking for a threepeat on its home turf.

Kasperbauer staked Team USA to a 7-0 lead with a 5-yard touchdown run with 9:03 left in the first quarter. The four-play, 15-yard drive was set up by a Kenny Chicoine interception on Japan’s opening possession of the game. But Japan found its tempo offensively following that series and ran off 10 unanswered points to close the half. After forcing a U.S. three-and-out deep in its own territory, Japan engineered a six-play 45-yard drive that culminated in a two-yard touchdown pass from Yuichi Tomizawa to Mitsunori Kihira to tie the score at 7-7 with just over eight minutes left in the half. Kasperbauer made his only gaffe of the day on the next possession when he fumbled after a short run to set Japan up at the U.S. 36-yard line. Six plays later Yosuke Kaneoya drilled a 49-yard field goal to Japan a 10-7 lead that held up through halftime.

Team USA found its offensive groove in the third quarter as Arizona’s Adam Ausitn engineered a short 17-yard scoring drive that culminated in a 35-yard field goal by Coffin to knot the score at 10-10.The United States appeared to have swung the momentum in its favor late in the fourth quarter when Cal Poly’s Chicoine blocked 40-yard field goal attempt by Kaneoya with just over eight minutes to go in the game. But the officials ruled that Team USA gained possession of the ball after the block then fumbled the ball back to Japan. Team Japan was given a first down on the U.S. 46-yard line and five plays later Tomizawa found Takuro Mayuzumi from six yards out for a 17-10 lead.

With the crowd and the elements working against them, Austin led the Americans on an 11-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a five-yard run by Kasperbauer to tie the score at 17-17 with 2:51 to go. After holding Japan on its final possession of regulation Coffin was perfect a 43-yard field goal to open the first overtime. Japan answered with a field goal of its own to push the score to 20-20 and send the game to a second overtime. "We played the second half with a calm confidence and when we got into overtime I felt the tide had swung our way,” Head Coach John Mackovic said. "Our offense was moving the ball and defensively we began to gauge their offense much better. Japan used their speed to their advantage and their offensive and defensive lines both played very well against a bigger opponent."

Team USA’s defense kept Japan out of the end zone again in the second overtime and its field goal attempt was deflected by Syracuse’s Chris Thorner, giving the Americans a chance to win the game on the next possession. Kasperbauer and Hobart’s Doug Blakowski split six carries and pushed the ball down to the six-yard line to set up Coffin’s game winner."I was just thinking good snap, good hold, keep your head down," Coffin said. "I turned around and my teammates were running on the field. I’m just happy. I’ve never won anything in my life."

The loss was the first for Japan in World Championship competition.


Game Stats


Okumura said...

Team Japan did a fantastic job. We had a realistical chance to win. But couldn't exploit that.
Gerry, you wrote in other post's comment that you underestimate Japan a bit, but team U.S.A. didn't. That was the point. One of the Japanese team's expectation, or hope, was that U.S.A. guys underestimate Japan team as the team looks like Korean team in terms of size and power, and then after first some plays they will be in some kind of depression as all of them are young players as things don't go as expected. But in actual, U.S.A. scouted Japan team well. They don't deprecate Japan and play well.
Also, unfortunately for Japan, size DID matter in the key kicking game in Over Time. Japanese linemen coudln't protect kicker enough.

Even we lost, I believe this game is good enough to lead U.S.A. footballers to think the cup more seriously as we expected.


Congratulation! team U.S.A. You are the winner.

Pat said...

I believe he isn't around for the afternoon, but he can.

Global, do you have any thoughts on the game?

GlobalGridiron said...

It was a great game from start to finish. Japan received the ball and threw an int on the first play. They were going against a stiff wind and the QB put too much air under it. USA was on the 15 after that and scored a few plays later.

Japan found their rythym in the 2nd quarter with the wind to their back and scored 10 to go into the half up 10-7. USA missed a FG right before the half.

USA scored again in the 3rd to tie it up. Japan was having trouble moving the ball when the wind was facing them. I'm assuming the wind had something to do with it.

There was a terrible call with about 6 min left in the 4th that made me happy the US won. The game was tied and Japan had a FG blocked, the US player picked it up briefly and then fumbled. They gave Japan the ball back because they said he had possession which he clearly didn't. Japan scored a few plays later to go up 17-10.

Then the US marched down the field and scored with close to 2 min remaining. Japan held them to a FG in the 1st overtime which was played with college rules (each team gets a shot from the 25). Japan could have ended it with a TD but lost yards on their first 2 plays.

Japan had their FG attempt blocked in the 2nd OT and the USA ran the ball 6 times until it was 4th down from about the 5.

The weather wasn't as expected. There was a strong wind at times but it only rained for most of the 2nd quarter then let up. It was a well played game by both teams. I thought the worst thing that could have happened to USA was getting the INT on the first play of the game. It seemed they thought they would walk over Japan from there and lost a bit of focus. But they never panicked in the 4th down 7 with 5 min to play.

I was impressed with the way both teams played. It was never more than a 7 point game either way and they seemed to be very evenly matched.

Japan had a lot of guys that have played in the Arena League, AF2, and the previous 2 world cups and the USA had some great athletes. They were the 2 fastest teams at the world cup, as well as the 2 best coached teams.

In the end, I think if you gave the US more time together as a team they could have won by 2 TDs based on the disparity in talent. The reason I had been pulling for USA is everyone expected them to win and it meant a lot more to the 1,000 volunteers that worked the event and the people of Japan to win than it did to anyone outside of team USA.

With NFL Europe now defunct look for Germany to send a much stronger team to the next world cup. They were missing about 20 guys that couldn't play because they were in NFL Europe during camp. I also think USA will select a better team becaue the talent coming up in most of the stronger countries is getting better. I can't wait for 2011!

GlobalGridiron said...

***I meant to say the reason I was pulling for Japan, not USA, in the 2nd to last bad

Gerry said...

Hey dumbshit.

Erasing your racist comments is not my fulltime job. Stop posting if you've got nothing productive to add.

N.B. The comment I'm referring to has been deleted.

Jamba Monkee said...

When is the site of the 2011 tournament going to be announced? Does anyone know who is favored to host it?

Brian Hayes said...


Thanks for blogging this event! I got a lot out of your comments, as well as the contributors who were there.

While I do think that this team would probably go 5-6 or so against a BCS-conference-level schedule in Division I, I frankly am amazed at how good the Japanese team must be, and how they will continue to improve. Looking forward to the 2011 Cup! (and let me plug Dr. Tom Osborne as the next coach)

Gerry said...

Tom Osborne would have been phenomenal. Lou Holtz would also make a good choice. As this thing moves forward, we need proven motivators and proven winners at the helm.

These two men would be two great examples of that kind of mold.

Okumura said...

Yahoo! JAPAN streaming service delivers digest video of U.S.A. vs. Japan game for free.

But, pages only in Japanese, and videos are viewable only from IP addresses in Japan.

GlobalGridiron, Gerry, if you are still in Japan, you can see them.